Student experience: founding the Kent branch of the 93% Club, a UK social mobility society

Kent law students Aidarus Nur and Stephanie Selway reflect on their experience of founding The 93% Club at Kent, one of 40 clubs across the UK dedicated to connecting, upskilling, and empowering the state-educated student network.

About The 93% Club

93% of students across the UK are state-school educated, yet this is not reflected amongst the leaders of every sector in the country. Reassuringly, this statistic is accurate for the University of Kent. So, for The 93% Club Kent, we are dedicated to bridging the social mobility divide for students entering the professional world.

The first and largest network of state-educated students, The 93% Club, has grown from 2 clubs last year to over 40 clubs today. A product of the dreadful pandemic has been the creation of The 93% Club Foundation, which has led the movement by engaging with large businesses and sparking conversations with industry leaders, and establishing bursaries for students. Recent national achievements include the launch of our blog and podcast, our research action group, winning Bright Network’s Society of the Year for ‘Impact on Campus Award’ and importantly, Employability Week due to be held from 6 – 9 April. This will see sessions from many graduate employers across a variety of industries, skills development sessions and so much more – register now online.

Working Environment Survey

The 93% Club has shifted the attitude from a reactive standpoint to a proactive initiative; liaising directly with employers, upskilling state-educated students, and opening the doors for hidden talents. It has been assertive in uncovering the inequalities which others reluctantly acknowledge. Such inequalities mean the professional world is often unattainable for some, at no fault of their own. The ‘Working Environment Survey‘ has shone a powerful light on the incongruities experienced by UK students. Looking at the painful stories and photos shared with us by students, for example, having to resort to using a section of the dining table or even being crammed in the corner of a bedroom shared with younger siblings, it is clear the inequalities are directly on display. The study showed 74% of respondents did not have adequate WiFi, and 76% had to work within a noisy environment.

The home is not purposed for studying or learning, especially when students spend almost 14 years in an educational setting. Suddenly, the same students are expected to provide the same quality of work from their living room, where their family are also working, and often without the resources needed. Some have to share devices amongst each other for Zoom classes, and it is not like they can escape disturbances by going to a library for studying. Ultimately, this survey has done its part in exposing the actual conditions many are in at this time.

The purpose of the survey was to broadly amplify the unheard voices of the students. It is the Governments and educational institutions’ responsibility to address these mitigating circumstances. Universities across the nation have already begun implementing policies to address these concerns, such as providing students in private accommodation with faster 4G Wi-Fi, where they previously did not have this necessity.

The 93% Club at Kent

On a local level, The 93% Club Kent was founded in October 2020 when we (Aidarus Nur and Stephanie Selway) both reached out to Sophie Pender, the club’s original founder, to discuss setting up a branch in Kent, as the 18th club to join the community. Since then, we have established ourselves as the social mobility society, dedicated to connecting, upskilling, and empowering the state-educated student network at Kent. We have had a fantastic founding committee for this academic year and we are looking to continue this success, and broaden our impact starting with the appointment of our next committee, 2021-22.

Get involved

If The 93% Club sounds like something you would like to get involved with, please head to our Instagram, @93clubkent where you will find our committee position descriptions and the application form in our bio.

If you need any more convincing, we asked some of our current founding committee members to reflect on their time at The 93% Club Kent so far:

Kezia Westall, Vice-President: ‘Being a member of The 93% Club Kent founding committee and getting the society up and running has been a remarkable journey, introducing me to new experiences and developing skills that I believe will be very beneficial for future opportunities. Many of us overlook the importance of social mobility and don’t realise the impact it has, so I’m thankful for this opportunity to open up my mindset and I can only encourage others to do the same. As Vice-President, it is very satisfying to be able to have a high level of involvement with all of the club’s affairs, and I cannot wait to see how it develops nationally and within the University of Kent!’

Ethen Casey, Treasurer: ‘Being treasurer of The 93% Club Kent has allowed me to develop my management and financial-reporting skills through practice. I was later able to take on further responsibilities, adopting the role of Social Secretary, where I worked closely with the Vice-President to provide our members with social events, actively encouraging the networking of members of the society! Overall, my year in The 93% club has broadened my skill set and increased my employability prospects (whilst having fun along the way!)’

Tendai Kundishora, Marketing and Publicity Officer: ‘It’s been great to have been a part of a new society that is part of an even bigger national committee. I have been exposed to a number of new opportunities to extend and enhance our reach to state-educated students. I have also been exposed to how big of a role our society plays in university. The events hosted within Kent and nationally have helped me incredibly, and I am sure they have benefitted other students in their different careers. The society is still so new and there is so much potential for the next committee to take it even further.’

Krista Kaminska, Corporate Liaison and Outreach Officer: ‘I’ve really enjoyed having the chance to be on the founding committee for The 93% Club at Kent. It’s been nice to be able to work on something which you know has an impact, and is also a part of something bigger – going beyond Kent. The main message and goal of the society, which focuses on social mobility, is of particular personal importance to me; making all the work we have been able to do especially rewarding.’

Aidarus Nur and Stephanie Selway
Co-Founders and Co-Presidents of The 93% Club Kent

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