As our 20th anniversary year comes to an end, we caught up with our alumni community to find out where they are now and how the Sutton Trust has impacted their lives. Alumni Manager, Jessica Adams and Communications Officer, Grace Veenman report.

Over 22,000 young people have participated in Sutton Trust programmes in the 20 years since the Trust was founded. We were keen to learn more about where they are now and the role the Trust played in their lives. So, last month, we sent out an online survey to former programme participants and received over 1000 anonymous responses, with encouraging feedback.

A key marker of social mobility is the extent to which students from disadvantaged backgrounds can access higher-category jobs than their parents and the Trust is proud that 82% of alumni currently in employment have achieved this. The Trust’s programmes support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education because research has demonstrated that going to university can play a key role in social mobility.

As one alumnus said, “As someone with parents who hadn’t gone to university, spending a week at summer school was an invaluable experience. It really encouraged me to excel in my studies so that I could go to university myself and helped me to realise what I wanted to get out of further education.”

Four in five alumni said participation in a Sutton Trust programme had a positive effect on supporting their educational ambitions. The most frequent reason given was that the programme had boosted their confidence, followed by the Trust helping alumni to make more informed decisions about their futures. 85% of alumni who went on to higher education graduated with a 1st or 2:1.

One alumnus commented: “It made such a difference to my aspirations when people around me told me not to even try.”

Research from our Social Mobility Summit earlier this year highlighted how social mobility in the UK is getting worse, not better. Many alumni left comments about the ‘life-changing’ role that the Trust played in their lives, and a significant number were also willing to give back to the Trust in a variety of ways.

“The Sutton Trust is responsible for where I am today and has led me to a world of opportunities – from completing a degree at my Sutton Trust university, to living and working abroad and to meeting like-minded people and pursuing mutual interests which have shaped my life”, said another alumnus.

Sectors of employment – alumni currently in full or part-time work

The Sutton Trust is pleased to be developing new initiatives to support our alumni community, and the results of the survey are helping to shape the new programme. In particular, while 60% of alumni said that the Trust had a significant or moderate effect on their career outcomes, the Trust will develop ongoing ways to provide further support throughout the education and career paths of alumni. Find out more about the Sutton Trust’s alumni community, or about the programmes we have on offer.

The Trust is taking seriously the feedback alumni gave on the ways programmes can improve, and is commissioning extensive evaluation over the coming year, to help us improve our programmes for future generations. Earlier this year, alumni from the Pathways to Law programme were surveyed for this purpose. Their thoughtful responses are being utilised as we look to finetune that programme, which looks to support students who are interested in a range of careers within law.

The Trust would like to thank all the alumni who took part in these two recent surveys. The Sutton Trust has an impressive alumni community, and we are excited to have the opportunity to develop new programmes for this outstanding network.

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more: [email protected]


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