Summer schools can ‘wipe out’ social disadvantage

Young people who attend summer schools are significantly more likely to go to university, research by the Sutton Trust suggests.

January 18, 2012

Researchers at the University of Bristol looked at the destination of 1,750 students who attended one-week summer schools sponsored by the educational charity at the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Nottingham, Oxford and St Andrews in 2008 and 2009.

They compared their university application and acceptance rates with 240,000 other students in a range of control groups.

The report found 76 per cent of Sutton Trust summer school attendees went on to a Russell Group or 1994 Groups university, compared to just 55 per cent of students with similar academic and social profiles who did not apply to the scheme.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of the Sutton Trust students progressed to one of the host universities, compared to 13 per cent of those who applied for a place on the summer school but were unsuccessful and 7 per cent less in the other control groups.

Students from non-privileged backgrounds benefited the most from the residential placements.

In some cases, the summer schools “reduce completely” the disadvantage of coming from a poorer home, the study suggests.

The report’s authors Tony Hoare and Rosanna Mann say evidence shows summer schools help to ”kick-start social mobility”.

“Not only does the summer school experience encourage all attendees to target the more elite universities, but what is particularly encouraging is that they reduce, sometimes to vanishing point, the greater reluctance of the more under-privileged groups to do so”, they say.

Applications for this year’s summer schools opened on 10 January and close on 9 March.

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