SEVERAL Scottish state school pupils have secured places at top American universities.

Seven students from Scotland will take up places at institutions including the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Skidmore College and Northwestern and the University of Rochester.

Kerry O'Neill, 17, from Notre dame High School in Glasgow, is the first in her family to go to university and has been offered a place at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Jack Dunn, of Stranraer Academy and Samuel Fox, of Beath High School in Cowdenbeath, have both secured places at Dartmouth College, while Katie Russell, of St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Glasgow, is going to Northwestern University.

Maria McAveety, of Our Lady's High School in Cumbernauld, and Robyn Pattison, of Dunfermline High School, have also been offered places at Skidmore College and Bethany Tallis, of Clydeview Academy in Gourock, has successfully applied to the University of Rochester.

The applications have been made possible by the Sutton Trust which encourages academically talented, low and middle income British students to consider studying at American universities.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "Our US Programme is a life-changing experience so I’m delighted that so many young people from low and middle income backgrounds have benefited from it this year.

"The 43 talented students will enjoy a broad and varied curriculum and, with generous financial aid packages on offer, will graduate from some of the world’s best universities debt-free.

"I hope more young people will look to their success and realise that a university education in America is well within their grasp."

A total of 43 state school pupils throughout the UK have secured places at the universities through the programme, with some taking up studies at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

The Trust claims that 53 per cent of the students come from households earning less than £25,000 a year, while 86 per cent will be among the first in their family to go to university.

The pupils have gained their places through the US's early admissions scheme, with more students expected to apply by the regular January deadline later this month.