We work across the UK, mobilising the PhD community to support less advantaged students to access the most competitive universities, and to succeed when they get there.

The Problem

Students from the least advantaged backgrounds have a 2 in 100 chance of going to the most competitive universities, compared with 28 in 100 for the most advantaged (UCAS Multiple Equality Measure).

This disadvantage doesn’t disappear when they enter university. Disadvantaged students are 20% more likely to miss out on a 1st or 2:1 grade at university. This affects an individual beyond their time at university and impacts society as a whole.

About us

Our programmes support social mobility through a range of approaches:

  • Growing The Scholars Programme so that over 20,000 students can develop their knowledge, skills and confidence to access university annually by 2026
  • Pioneering approaches to university transition and student success will ensure that less advantaged students are supported to achieve a strong degree
  • Empowering parents with Parent Power to become champions for higher education in their communities and address any barriers their children face


In 2022/23, we worked with over 21,400 young people in over 960 schools. You can read more in our Year of Impact here.

The Programmes

In pursuit of our mission, we run a flagship university access programme, The Scholars Programme, and our student success programme, Join the Dots. We also collaborate with institutions to deliver additional access and student success projects to support their priorities.

The Scholars Programme

Our PhD tutors deliver The Scholars Programme in schools across the UK; raising attainment and sharing their subject knowledge and passion for learning with students aged 8-18.

Join the Dots

Join the Dots brings together schools and colleges together with universities to support students who are most likely to face barriers during the transition to higher education.

Parent Power

Parent Power creates parent and carer communities across the UK, each one supported by an anchor institution.

Through advice and guidance on accessing higher education, and developing skills in community organising, Parent Power empowers parents and carers to make change in their children’s future.

Brilliant Consulting

The Brilliant Consulting Unit specialises in research and evaluation, strategy development and digital transformation, and curriculum development and quality assurance.

Bringing together a range of specialisms, we now use our expertise to support other organisations who want to ensure better outcomes for future generations.

Where it began

The Brilliant Club was co-founded in 2011 by Jonathan Sobczyk and Simon Coyle, two teachers who became involved in university access through their work in inner-city schools. As classroom teachers, they recognised the barriers that pupils from less advantaged backgrounds face in accessing the most competitive universities.  

They started a project aiming at  supporting these pupils to progress, by utilising the expertise and passion of PhD researchers, to deliver university-style tutorials to small groups of pupils. From an initial placement of 12 pupils in London, The Brilliant Club won a Guardian Charity Award in 2015 and now works with 20,000 pupils a year in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

We celebrated our 10th birthday in 2021. To find out more about our decade of impact across the UK, watch our video:

Get involved

Our strategy, Join the Club, is about participation. Together, from primary school to graduation, we can meet the challenge.

If you’d like to get involved in our work, as a school, researcher, supporter, university, ambassador or Friend of the charity, please follow the link below. 

You should offer The Brilliant Club to as many people as you can – it can really change someone’s outlook on life.

Meet the team

Find out more about The Brilliant Club’s team

Board of Trustees

Meet the Board of Trustees for the charity

Want to join the team?

Our latest vacancies are listed here