An award-winning university access charity that works across the UK

Above: Scholars Programme pupils with their PhD tutor in a tutorial

"Coming from a state comprehensive school, first-generation background, higher education wasn't on my radar while I was at secondary school. One day, my teacher called us all to a meeting about a new opportunity called The Scholars Programme. I definitely think the experience was the most important factor in my eventual decision to apply to Keble College, Oxford, where I've spent the happiest two years of my life studying English and Italian… I can't thank the programme enough for giving me that all-important first push."Shona, Scholars Programme alumna

The Mohn Westlake Foundation is pleased to support The Brilliant Club over the next three years.

"It was a really fantastic opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a real eye-opener into university life. I would do it all over again." Secondary School Pupil, Suffolk

At a glance…

  • In England, only 1 in 50 of the most disadvantaged school leavers progress to a competitive university, compared to 1 in 4 of the most advantaged (UCAS, 2019).
  • During The Scholars Programme, pupils study an exciting university-style course alongside a subject expert PhD tutor. Recent courses include 'Dead or Alive: The Journey into English Literature' and 'Can Youth Plan the Future Smart City?'.
  • The Scholars Programme has been proven to work. In 2020, evaluation showed that compared to 28% of pupils in matched control groups, 44% of Scholars Programme graduates progressed to one of the most competitive universities.
  • The Scholars Programme has been proven to increase pupils' self-confidence in their ability to succeed at university.
  • Pupils learn more about university life by meeting current students and university staff, either virtually or in-person at university campuses.

"It was useful as it helped me to realise that university is not all about academia, but also about community.” Secondary School Pupil, Cardiff

Right now, disadvantaged pupils are eighteen times more likely to miss out on the life-changing opportunity of attending a competitive university. This is often an indirect result of factors entirely out of their control – their family income, parental history of higher education and their postcode. While young people continue to be limited by their backgrounds, their life chances are negatively impacted, and society misses out on talent and diverse experiences.

Three Scholars Programme pupils taking part in an information session at a university

With a decade of proven impact, The Brilliant Club exists to level this playing field. Through their programmes, young people build the knowledge, skills and confidence that empower them to access the most competitive universities and succeed when they get there. Supporting The Brilliant Club will enable 50,000 pupils to take part in The Scholars Programme providing these pupils aged 8-18 from non-selective state schools the opportunity to work with a PhD researcher to experience university-style learning.

"I feel more confident over what is to come for me when I go to university next year, as the feedback I received has helped me to understand exactly what is expected of me when I move up to that level of work.” Secondary School Pupil, Liverpool


Pupil writing notes in their Scholars Programme course handbook

For more information about this project please visit their website:

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