The Machynlleth based 'Seren' education network has linked up with Yale University to provide students with the chance to study in the USA or China for free.

The partnership will see 11 Seren students attend a fortnight-long summer school at Yale’s campuses this summer with the cost, usually 6000 dollars, covered jointly by Seren and Yale. A similar collaboration between Seren and Jesus College Oxford last summer offered around 70 pupils the chance to sample life at the prestigious institution in August.

Set up in 2015 to address the decline in the number of Welsh students applying to top universities, the Seren Network is the Welsh Government’s flagship university access programme, and more than 2000 students are now on the network across 11 regional hubs.

A lukewarm Welsh Government report into Seren was released this week, stating that the initiative has been successful in adding value in certain areas, but that the programme needed to be clearer about it's aims and objectives.

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, said: "Seren has quickly grown to become a recognised and valuable vehicle through which more than 2000 pupils in Wales are channelling their academic talents and ambitions.

"The report details the Network’s considerable early success, from plugging gaps in support across Wales, to forging new strategic partnerships between Wales and some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world including most recently Yale,"

"Of course, there are areas for improvement which the report outlines, including a number that we’re already working to address. Nonetheless, it’s very encouraging to see a positive overview so early in the process," she added.

Liam Rahman, a Yale graduate who now works as a representative for Yale in Wales, said: "Since returning to Wales last year, it's been a real privilege to work with high potential Welsh students through the Seren Network and Yale's Alumni Schools Committee. Over the past few months, I've worked to build the relationship between Yale and The Seren Network, which has culminated in this fantastic partnership and scholarship opportunity. This scholarship will deliver life-changing opportunities to some of Wales's brightest sixth formers and gives Yale the opportunity to access some of Wales's very best talent."

Year 12 Seren students have until February 13 to apply for the scholarships, and will be selected via a 'competitive' application process.