A student society set up at University of Bristol in 2016 has skyrocketed in recent months, becoming the UK’s first and largest network of state-educated students¹ When I joined the Lancaster branch of this society in August 2020, there were just six other branches. Now, over 45 universities across the nation have set up their own branch of the aptly named 93 Percent Club, representing the 93% of the country who come from state-educated backgrounds. Reducing inequalities is at the heart of what we do, so Goal 10 is a perfect fit for the organisation.
For students like me, who come from working-class, underprivileged backgrounds, this club makes a powerful statement about banding together and fighting the system that for so long has left us unfairly disadvantaged. I remember applying for a role on the media team, feeling like I had finally found a club that not only represented everything I believed in, but that also made me feel seen. I’ve always been passionate about proving that just because someone is state-educated, or their parents aren’t in high-flying careers, it does not mean they are any less capable, or worthy of success. The type of society that maintains and enforces this imbalance is only sustainable for the 7% who benefit from it, and that’s what we’re here to change.
Serious About Social Mobility
² Nationally, the 93 Percent Club pride themselves on offering support and opportunities to those who lack the inherent networking provided to private school students, and those with parents in high-flying careers. Our aim is to level the playing field, and with a reach of over 10,000 students through our club social media channels and website, this is not an unrealistic goal. After winning the Bright Network Award for Impact on Campus, and having recently become a registered charity, there is little doubt that the 93 Percent Club have hit the ground running.
Across the country, each branch offers its members exclusive access to events and workshops, alongside sharing opportunities and information on their social media platforms to educate their followers. This is something I’ve been directly involved with, and the chance to engage with our members and see the effects of what we publicise has been so encouraging. By spreading awareness and educating people on the reality of the class divide, it feels as though I am in the midst of a huge cultural shift towards ending these sorts of inequalities.
“The data on education inequality is both eye-opening and overwhelming”
Despite only making up 7% of the population³, privately educated students account for 74% of judges, 61% of Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians and over 50% of Cabinet members. By offering state-educated students a chance to network and upskill, the 93 Percent Club are actively trying to redress this imbalance. By offering speaker panels, upskilling workshops, and a week-long Employability Week with huge industry presences like P&G and Accenture, this student society are not only proving their dedication to Goal 10, but to the millions of students they represent.
Committed to Making a Meaningful Impact
Between the 2nd of January and 23rd of February 2021, the foundation undertook a large-scale national survey, gaining over 690 anonymous responses from state-educated students at 79 university institutions across the UK. The survey gathered information about remote working environments that working-class students are enduring due to the pandemic and aims to show employers and universities the harsh reality that some students are facing. With 77% of respondents claiming they felt their employment prospects had been damaged, and 87% saying their mental health had been negatively impacted, the work of the 93 Percent Club towards Goal 10 is more important now than ever.
So, What Happens Next?
The foundation is constantly looking for new ways to bridge the gap for the 93% and continue to build on the thriving network that is already proving to be a force to be reckoned with. Having recently launched a national blog and a national podcast, alongside plans for a summertime club-wide summit of both old and new executive committees alike, the 93 Percent Club are taking the country by storm; proving that when a community of people passionate about reducing inequalities comes together, the possibilities are endless.