Scots boys too shy for summer school?

Tuesday 30 January 2007

Scottish schoolboys are being encouraged to overcome their shyness and apply to spend a free week this summer at Scotland’s oldest university courtesy of the Sutton Trust.

Sir Peter Lampl, who founded the trust, says he is concerned about a fall in applications from boys to the summer program, which brings around 70 fifth-year students from around Scotland each year to the University of St Andrews. The initiative is aimed at those who might not otherwise consider applying to a competitive university like St Andrews, and offers a free, week-long taster of student life.

Applications to this year’s program (to be held at St Andrews 1-6 July) opened online this month. In recent years, applications from girls have outnumbered those from boys at a rate of two to one or more, not just in St Andrews but nationally.

Sir Peter, founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said, “We have always had a majority of girls on our summer school courses but last year applications from boys dipped under 30% for the first time since we kept records. This is serious as we are concerned that boys from non-privileged homes are not getting the opportunities they need to go to a top university. Maybe they are too shy to apply.”

The Trust funds summer schools at Bristol, Cambridge, Nottingham and Oxford in England, but St Andrews is the only university in Scotland to host a Sutton Trust Summer School, one of several summer programs the University runs.

Sir Peter said, “Each year we estimated that there are at least 3,000 able students from state schools who obtain the grades necessary to go to a top university, but who end up elsewhere. Many of them do not apply because they think they either won’t fit in or stand a chance of getting in. Our summer schools are designed to dispel these myths.”

The program at St Andrews in the first week of July often opens students’ eyes to what going to a top university is like – and lets them see that it is a possibility for them. “It is 100% what they would get at university,” explained Mike Johnson, coordinator of the program for the University of St Andrews.

He added, “By the end of the week, they have become so comfortable with their environment, they actually look like undergraduates!”

“We don’t know exactly why more female students apply, it could be due to a number of factors, but we would certainly welcome more male applicants this year in the interests of balance,” he said.

Last year, 72 Scottish school students who had just completed S5 attended the program at St Andrews, which includes classes with lecturers in subjects such as Psychology, Astronomy & Physics, English and Computer Science (this year International Relations will be added to the curriculum). The week also involves social events hosted by university students, thus providing a window into the full student experience. Virtually all of last year’s cohort told the program’s coordinators they would encourage their peers to apply to the program.

“I was worried about going to University,” said one student, “but now I can’t wait.”

Indeed, 50% of the class of 2006 have applied to study at St Andrews, and last year saw the first person graduate from the very first Sutton Trust Summer School at St Andrews with a BSc (Hons) in Medical Science.

Anyone interested should call 0208 788 3223 for further details or apply on-line at

The deadline for applications is Friday 2nd March 2007.




Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact 01334 467227 / 462529.

Ref: Shy boys 290107

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