The Brilliant Club

Access to top universities for all

Over the past 10 years, the Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme has helped more than 90,000 young people from less advantaged backgrounds earn places at the UK’s most competitive universities. Their goal over the next five years is for 100,000 more Scholars Programme graduates to do the same.

At Kusuma Trust, we’re passionate about innovative projects that make a difference in education and create new access to opportunities. We’ve supported the Brilliant Club since 2018 (more info about our past grant here). Our grant of £68,000 in 2022 will help the Brilliant Club to grow their presence in South London and fund the their Scholars Programme.

  • Graduates from the most competitive universities are more likely to go on to professional careers and earn £10,000 more per year on average than their peers.
  • Our 2022-23 grant will help the Brilliant Club reach 17,000 students aged eight to 18 across the UK, as well as supporting 800 undergraduates from less advantaged backgrounds in their first year at university.
  • By the end of the decade, the Brilliant Club expects that one in 10 state school students progressing to a competitive university will be graduates of the Scholars Programme.

Innovative intervention

One in four of the most advantaged young people go on to study at the most competitive universities, compared to just one in 50 of the least advantaged. The Brilliant Club challenges this inequality by pairing PhD students with pupils who are less likely to be able to access the most competitive universities. Pupils visit their PhD student tutor at their university for an introductory tutorial, a campus tour, and a university applications workshop. The tutors lead weekly seminars in school and pupils complete assignments based on the PhD student’s field of research, and receive one-to-one feedback. And it works – in 2020, 44% of Scholars Programme graduates progressed to one of the most competitive universities, compared to just 28% of students from similar backgrounds.

The Brilliant Club’s support for students from less advantaged backgrounds doesn’t end once they have earned their place at university. Undergraduate students from the least advantaged backgrounds are more likely to drop out of university in their first year and less likely to graduate with top grades than students from more advantaged backgrounds. The Brilliant Club successfully piloted a new Student Support Programme in 2021 and 800 first year undergraduate students will benefit from it in 2022-23. Student support will be led by universities, offering study skills classes, advice on choosing course modules and building peer networks.

“The Scholars Programme gave me a taster of university life. I always knew I wanted to go to university, and it helped me know what I could expect and what I needed to do to get in.”

Ayesha, Scholars Programme graduate.

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