Brilliant Club

The Brilliant Club launches plan to become the UK’s biggest university access movement to mark tenth birthday

16 Sep 2021

Building on a decade of proven impact, the charity has launched its new five-year strategy, Join the Club. The strategy, driven by CEO Anne-Marie Canning MBE, is focused on addressing two barriers to educational equality in the UK: access and success. It responds to the challenges faced by disadvantaged students, who are less likely to access the most competitive universities and then succeed when they get there.  

Right now, pupils from the least advantaged backgrounds have a 1 in 50 chance of going to the most competitive universities, compared to 1 in 4 of the most advantaged. For those that do progress to the most competitive universities, new barriers appear. Disadvantaged students are three times more likely to miss out on a 1st or 2:1 at university 

To address these challenges, The Brilliant Club will support over 100,000 pupils through their university access programme, The Scholars Programme, and for the first time, work with over 11,000 students to enhance their success at these institutions.  

By 2030, the charity estimates that one in 10 state school pupils enteringthe most competitive UK universities willhave successfully completed its ScholarsProgramme. 

These are ambitious goals and The Brilliant Club’s ‘Join the Club’ focus is an indicator of the community-building approach it will undertake to work at this scale. The charity will be mobilising communities of pupils and parents, alongside its longstanding PhD community, to become the UK’s largest university access movement. 

In the decade since it was founded, The Brilliant Club has supported over 90,000 young people to access the most competitive universities. Independent evaluations by the University of Cambridge and UCAS demonstrate the proven impact of its programmes. In2020,UCAS analysis found for the fifth consecutive year that Scholars Programme graduates were significantly more likely to apply to, receive an offer from and progress to a competitive universitythan acontrol group of pupils from similar socio-economic backgroundswith matchedpriorattainment(44% vs. 28%). 

Through goals outlined in Join the Club, The Brilliant Club will work with young people throughout their journey from primary school to graduation to boost access to, and success at, the most competitive universities. It is through this important work that the charity aims to build a world in which a young person’s life chances are not determined by their background.  

Anne-Marie Canning MBE, CEO of The Brilliant Club, commented: “This is an exciting moment for The Brilliant Club community. Our new strategy is all about participation and ensuring more pupils and students benefit from working with a PhD researcher. By working together as a Brilliant Club community, we can close the gaps in who gets to access and flourish at a competitive university.”

Ibrahim Ahmed, PhD Candidate at the University of Manchester and Brilliant Club tutor, said:  “Working with The Brilliant Club has been a highlight of my PhD. It is extremely rewarding to witness the progress made by students as they work towards attending the best universities. The opportunities offered by The Brilliant Club help put researchers in a fantastic position to bridge the educational attainment gap and learn some science communication skills along the way. “ 

Megan Walsh, Brilliant Club Graduate and Ambassador, said: “I cannot wait to continue working with The Brilliant Club on their new strategy. It is so important to give all students the confidence to apply to the most competitive universities in the country regardless of their background, and our new strategy will help us do this.”

You can access The Brilliant Club’s new five-year strategy, Join the Club, here.