News Blog

Posted on: 12/02/2019







Yousuf Bakshi, 17, from Cardiff, who is completing his A Levels at Fitzalan High School, has won a place and a financial aid package to study at a top US university after participating in the Sutton Trust US Programme, run in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

Yousuf will take up his place at Harvard University in Massachusetts this autumn.

Last year, Yousuf was one of 150 students selected for the programme, which included a week-long trip to the United States to visit a variety of universities and meet admissions officers from colleges across the US. The students competed with over 1,000 applicants to win a place on the programme and spent a week staying in the dorms at either Yale University, Princeton University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The students benefited from residential activities and received an intensive programme of support, delivered by the US-UK Fulbright Commission over several months before and after their US visit, which covered admission tests, college choices and the application process.

The aim of the Sutton Trust US Programme is to encourage British state school students from low-and-moderate-income homes to consider studying at American universities.


The 2018-2019 programme cohort comes from across the UK. 74% of the students admitted early will be the first in their family to go to university. Of the 47 accepted students, 53% are from households that earn less than £25,000 a year.


Yousuf, who attends Fitzalan High in Cardiff, said, “It feels like a dream come true. I had the US flag stuck to my bedroom wall for years and when I was in year 9 I told my teachers I wanted to study Stateside which was met with surprised looks. Now that the dream has come true, I couldn’t be any more excited for what the next four years hold and am so thankful for all the people who helped me along the way! From teachers to friends, family to the Sutton Trust US Programme, the support I have received to realise my ambitions are second to none. The Sutton Trust US Programme was so informative and gave me the opportunity to experience the US higher education system first-hand and meet incredible people along the way. My school and peers have always supported me and when I received my admission it was the greatest moment of my life, which I got to share with everyone at home and school. The US higher education system is the perfect fit for me. I get to explore all my passions at university rather than struggling to focus on just one. I cannot wait to start this autumn and meet many wonderful like-minded friends. I always remember what my mum told me, “You never know you’re capable of the very best until you actually try”, and that has stuck with me ever since. All dreams are possible, and I hope many other students get to experience the thrills and joys that I have and pursue their ambitions, even if they may seem absurd to some.”


Yousuf is one of 47 students who have been accepted under the early application deadline to US universities, and more students applied by the January deadline, with results available later this spring.


The participants admitted early have been offered a total of approximately $13.4m of financial aid from the universities over the next four years. They have been accepted to 33 different institutions, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia.

The Sutton Trust US programme is made possible through generous support from donors, including the Robertson Foundation, founding corporate partner Bank of America Merrill Lynch, longstanding supporters Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, Martin and Antoinette Sullivan, The Neuberger Berman Foundation and EducationUSA.

Sir Peter Lampl, Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

“America’s leading universities are bastions of progressive values and outstanding education. Their campuses are welcoming places for international students, whatever country or social background they come from. 

“I’m delighted that 47 state school students have won places to study in the States. They will benefit from a broad and varied curriculum, as well as in-depth study and generous funding for both tuition and living costs.

“I hope more young people will look to their success and realise that a university education in the States is well within their grasp.”

Penny Egan CBE, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said:

“I am so pleased to see the early successes of the current cohort in securing places and funding at top universities across the United States. These young people demonstrate the continued interest in US higher education among talented students in the UK, many drawn by the chance to pursue a liberal arts education and by the diversity and quality of US universities.”


The US programme is based on the Sutton Trust’s successful flagship programme in the UK which now runs at 13 leading British universities and has benefited over 20,000 state school students.  Applications for the UK programme are also open now until 28th February 2019 at


For further information please contact Hilary Cornwell at the Sutton Trust on 020 7802 1660 / 07951 447956 or Kirsty Callaghan at Fulbright on 020 7498 4020,


  1. Yousuf comes from Cardiff and will be the first in his family to go to university. Having distinct Bangladeshi roots fused with an innate sense of Welshness, Yousuf has an international outlook that has contributed to his enthusiasm to study in the US. He set up and runs a coding club for the younger pupils in his school, who are often from disadvantaged backgrounds, to ensure they are able to develop key digital skills. He also leads the student council as the Head Boy of Fitzalan, where pupils of all ages have their voices heard and feel represented within their community. Yousuf hopes to study computer science at Harvard, along with politics made possible through the liberal arts degree flexibility. A pianist, a campaigner, and an actor in programmes such as Doctor Who, Yousuf will take full advantage of all the opportunities that come his way.


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 200 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.


  1. The US-UK Fulbright Commission is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the US and UK governments to promote educational exchange between the US and the UK. The Commission offers prestigious awards for postgraduate study and research in the US, and is part of the EducationUSA network, offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited higher education institutions in the USA.
  2. The Sutton Trust has run UK summer schools since 1997. They offer young people from low-and-moderate-income backgrounds in year 12 – mostly 17 year-olds – a chance to get a taste of student life at a research-led university. The programme balances busy academic days with social activities and has been successful in encouraging bright state school students from low-and-middle-income families to study at the most selective universities in Britain.
  3.  Results from the first six cohorts include over 300 students enrolled at universities across the US and an American university abroad, accessing approximately $88 million in financial aid.At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, employees are guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. The firm delivers on this through responsible growth, with a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across the business and reflects how the firm helps fuel the global economy, builds trust and credibility, and represents a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It is demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace created for its employees, the responsible products and services offered to clients, and the impact the firm makes around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with not-for-profits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organisations, to bring together collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at, and connect on Twitter @BofAML.
Written by Mrs J Kemp




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