What exactly is a summer school? And who can apply to one? Find out from our Head of University Access and Digital, Jonny Tyndall.

Applications open today for our 26th University Summer School cohort.

Over 2,500 students are set to benefit from taking part in the programme with one of our 13 university partners this summer. We are particularly excited to announce a new partnership with the University of Sheffield who are offering Summer Schools in four disciplines, as well as our first standalone Dentistry summer school delivered by Cardiff University. All the courses running in 2023 can be found here.

What is a Summer School?

On a Sutton Trust Summer School you’ll spend up to a week living in student accommodation at one of 13 leading UK universities studying one of over 40 different subjects and meet like-minded students from across the UK. You’ll get advice and guidance on how to make your university application stand out from the crowd, take part in academic classes and get to explore social life at your host university.

“I was worried that the academic content would be overwhelming and too advanced, but it was just the right difficulty. One thing this experience has given me is clarity. I am now certain that I want to study Engineering at university, and I am certain that I will enjoy it!”

– Kacper, Peterborough, University of Cambridge Summer School Participant

Why should I take part?

Sutton Trust Summer Schools are an amazing opportunity to find out what university life is really like and it’s completely free to attend.

Through taking part in the programme you’ll be able to make more informed choices about whether university is right for you and if so, what and where you’d like to study. You’ll gain skills and receive advice that will help you navigate the world of higher education and increase your confidence.

Having run Summer Schools for many years, we know that taking part on your university destination. A recent UCAS study showed that participants were 4 times more likely to receive an offer and 4.5 times more likely t from a leading university than their peers.

“I have gained so much from the Summer School. I have made friendships that will last forever, I have experienced life in a different city, I have tried new subjects and discovered what I would love to study in the future. However, the thing I am most grateful for is the support I have received throughout my whole Summer School journey.”

– Abbie, Inverness, University of Glasgow Summer School Participant

Who can apply?

Sutton Trust Summer Schools are open to individuals currently studying in Year 12 (England and Wales), Year 13 (Northern Ireland) or S5 (Scotland) who have always attended a state-funded school or college.

There are a number of other factors we look at when offering places. The more of these you meet, the more likely you are to be offered a place. These include:

  • Academically high achieving (have achieved five 6-9 grades at GCSE including two 7s/five A or B Grades at National 5 including one A)
  • Have been eligible for Free School Meals
  • Will be the first in family to attend university
  • Live in a socio-economically deprived area
  • Attend a low performing school

If you are care-experienced you only need to meet the academic criteria to be offered a place.

In 2022, successful applicants to the programme met on average 3.8 of the above criteria.

“I can’t decide on a single highlight of my experience. It’s a tie between the people I met and what I learned. It was so diverse and I felt at home. Taking part in the summer school has helped me gain confidence. I feel like I’m a competitive applicant now, while before I just thought it would be lucky if I was offered a university place from any institution.”

– Samira, Manchester, University of Cambridge Summer School Participant

Is there any other support available?

Alongside our face-to-face Summer Schools, we will also support you virtually through our STO Core Programme delivered on Sutton Trust Online. This is an 18-month structured journey that will guide you through your last two years of school or college, providing you information, insights and tailored support as you prepare for the next steps in your education or work journey. You will be able to access exclusive content and webinars from our university and employer partners, speak to current students and apprentices about what life is really like for them and receive personal statement, admissions test and interview support.

Anyone who applies for a Summer School and meets our grades threshold and one of our other social mobility criteria will be offered a free place on Sutton Trust Online. Last year, this meant that we were able to support over 10,000 applicants to the Summer Schools.

“The programme helped show me that university is definitely the right choice for me and that I can cope with moving to an entirely new place and make friends without having to worry at all. If you’re still on the fence, I’d say go for it. You have nothing to lose and have an amazing experience waiting for you.”

– Jacob, Warrington, University of Nottingham Summer School Participant

Applications are open now until midday on Friday 10th March. To find out more about Sutton Trust Summer Schools including university partners, courses and eligibility, please visit our website.

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