Billionaire philanthropist, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is funding a new online platform from the Sutton Trust to help low income UK teenagers apply for university.
Sutton Trust Online aims to boost widening participation in higher education at a time when many young people from low-income backgrounds have seen coronavirus devastate their family finances and render their academic futures uncertain.
The platform has been developed in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable arm of Bloomberg’s fintech and media company Bloomberg LP, to support 6,000 year 12 students (16- and 17-year olds) across the UK in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The students will have met social mobility criteria – such as eligibility for free school meals or attending a school where few progress to university – and applied to either Sutton Trust Summer Schools earlier this year or partner universities’ own access initiatives, all of which have been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
A parent’s income should never determine a child’s likelihood of going to university
Through the platform, the young people will access 300 subject-specific academic content from Russell Group universities, advice and guidance on applications and student finance, including help with personal statements and access to a pool of student mentors and Sutton Trust alumni, as well as an insight into what university life is like.
Students will receive personalised support through the platform throughout year 13.
“The coronavirus crisis has presented a whole new set of challenges for students from low-income families, interrupting the school year and cutting off access to resources that help students stay on track – like university application guidance,” said Michael Bloomberg.
“Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped more than 70,000 talented low- and middle-income students apply to and enrol in top colleges in the US through our virtual advising program CollegePoint, and we’re glad to support the work that Sutton Trust Online is leading in the UK.
“A parent’s income should never determine a child’s likelihood of going to university – and with the coronavirus taking a devastating financial toll on families, and casting so much uncertainty into young people’s lives, this work is more important and more urgent than ever before.”
A Sutton Trust report from early May showed that, due to the coronavirus crisis, working class students were more likely to have changed their mind about going to university and were more likely to be worried than their middle-class peers about the negative impact of the crisis on their chances of getting into their first-choice university.
“Our research has shown that the coronavirus has had a major impact on young people and will have a profound effect on their futures,” said Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation.
“High quality support is needed more than ever, but with face-to-face programmes unable to go ahead, there is a serious gap in provision. The new platform will incorporate all the features of the Trust’s flagship Summer Schools, including academic content, advice and guidance on applications and student finance, plus an insight into what university life is like.
“We are delighted to be working with Bloomberg Philanthropies and many of the UK’s leading universities to launch Sutton Trust Online. We are confident that it will be a good substitute for our traditional summer schools and help to ensure that highly talented, lower income students don’t lose out.”