Teenagers from the East Midlands are the least likely in England to go on to a leading university, according to new analysis of UCAS data by the Sutton Trust. Just 19% of university applicants from the East Midlands gained a place at a Russell Group university in 2019, compared to 24% of applicants in the South West and 23% in the South East.

To close these access gaps, the Sutton Trust has partnered with Capital One to improve university access for young people in the region. They have joined together to fund a new student cohort of Sutton Scholars in the East Midlands, a three-year programme for 11-14 year-olds designed to provide early intervention for high-potential students from less advantaged backgrounds.

300 students from 24 schools across the region will take part in the scheme, delivered by the University of Nottingham. They will find out what university is like by visiting the campus, trying out new academic subjects, meeting new people from across the region, and developing essential life skills such as presentation and communication.

Capital One has been committed to the development of young people in Nottinghamshire since it established its UK headquarters in the city in 1998.  The company has partnered with local primary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities, to help increase aspirations and confidence among students so they can go on to enjoy successful working lives.

Sutton Scholars has been running since 2013 at universities across the country. The programme was designed to address the decline in gifted and talented provision for young people.

Previous research by the Sutton Trust has highlighted the need for early intervention to improve access to leading universities for disadvantaged students:

  • 60,000 students, who at 11, 14 and 16 are among the top fifth of academic performers, do not enter higher education at 18.
  • 15% of highly attaining pupils who score in top 10% nationally at 11 fail to achieve in top 25% at GCSE.

The expansion of the Sutton Scholars programme – and the new partnership with Capital One – will be launched at a breakfast event in Nottingham this morning. Speakers will include Amy Lenander, Head of International and UK CEO of Capital One UK, James Turner, Chief Executive of The Sutton Trust, and Sarah O’Hara, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience at the University of Nottingham.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman and founder of The Sutton Trust, said:

“I am delighted that the Trust has partnered with Capital One to provide new opportunities for young people in Nottinghamshire. The research is clear. Early intervention is key to helping teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds to make the most of their talents.”

Amy Lenander, Head of International and UK CEO of Capital One UK, added:

“Capital One is proud to partner with the Sutton Trust, with our shared focus on providing opportunity to help young people become confident and successful adults.

“This partnership is about building our long-standing commitment to Nottinghamshire and the region.  Together with the Sutton Trust, Nottingham University, and 24 schools in our region, Capital One will help create opportunities for young people so they can fulfil their potential.”


  • The Sutton Trust is committed to improving social mobility from birth to the workplace. Founded by Sir Peter Lampl in 1997, the Trust has supported over 30,000 young people through evidence-led programmes and published over 200 pieces of agenda-setting research, many of which have influenced government policy.
  • A list of apply centres (e.g. schools, colleges or other institutions through which students make their applications) with recorded HE applications in the years 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 were provided to the Sutton Trust by UCAS and matched to Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) and other publicly available data from the Department for Education.
  • The following schools will take part:
    Alderman White
    Arnold Hill Academy
    Bluecoat Academy (Aspley Lane Campus)
    Bluecoat Academy (Wollaton Park Campus)
    Bramcote College
    Carlton le Willows Academy
    Colonel Frank Seeley School
    Djanogly City Academy
    Dukeries Academy
    Farnborough Academy
    Fullhurst Community College
    John Flamsteed Community School
    Landau Forte College
    Lodge Park Academy
    Malcolm Arnold Academy
    Meden School
    Nottingham Free School
    Oakwood Academy
    Queen Elizabeth’s Academy
    Rushcliffe School
    Sutton Academy
    David Nieper Academy
    Carlton Academy

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