Who we are

The Brilliant Club is an award-winning university access charity that works across the UK.

The Problem

In the UK today, there is an entrenched link between a pupil’s background and their access to higher education. The UCAS Equality measure shows that 1 in 4 of the most advantaged quintile of English 18-year olds enter highly-selective universities, compared to only 1 in 50 pupils from the most disadvantaged quintile.

Our Mission

The Brilliant Club exists to increase the number of pupils from underrepresented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities.

The Path to Outcomes

The Brilliant Club’s five-year strategy, The Path to Outcomes, sets out our plan to support 6,500 pupils from underrepresented backgrounds to progress to highly-selective universities by 2021.  The strategy focuses on delivering consistent and reliable outcomes for pupils by supporting academic attainment and university progression through both The Scholars Programme and Researchers in Schools in academic years 2016-21. The strategy places great importance on evidencing impact, which is reflected in The Brilliant Club’s investment in our Research and Impact activities.

The Programmes

In pursuit of our mission, The Brilliant Club runs three core programmes; The Scholars Programme, Researchers in Schools and the Brilliant Tutoring Programme.

The Scholars Programme

The Scholars Programme recruits, trains and places doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in schools to deliver programmes of university-style tutorials, which are supplemented by two university trips. 

Researchers in Schools

The RIS Programme offers a tailored route into teaching exclusively for PhD graduates. It is specifically designed to utilise their academic expertise to the benefit of pupils, schools and universities.

Brilliant Tutoring Programme

We are taking part in the national catch-up effort so pupils can access a future they deserve. The Programme aims to re-engage and rebuild pupils’ confidence in core subjects by working with a subject expert.


This year, our supporters are making it possible for us to work with 15,000 pupils across the UK.   

Together, we aim to break the link between a young person’s background and access to life-changing education by equipping them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to successfully apply and progress to highly-selective universities. 

Friends of The Brilliant Club

The Brilliant Club has built strong relationships with schools, universities, PhD researchers and supporters who share our mission to support pupils from underrepresented backgrounds to access highly-selective universities.  

Our Friends of The Brilliant Club network provides opportunities for people, from a range of backgrounds, who share an interest in the charity to meet, exchange ideas and support The Brilliant Club’s mission.  

If you would like to join our Friends of The Brilliant Club network, please sign up here to receive our termly newsletter and invites to our networking events. 

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 underrepresented backgrounds face in accessing highly-selective 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 now works with 15,000 pupils a year in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

The charity continues to grow and improve both The Scholars Programme and Researchers in Schools, underpinned by a commitment to monitoring and evaluation. 

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