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Les Ebdon to become Director of Fair Access on 1 September 2012

The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is delighted to announce that Professor Les Ebdon will take up his position as Director of Fair Access to Higher Education on 1 September 2012. Professor Ebdon, who is currently Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Bedfordshire, will take over from Sir Martin Harris who continues in post until 31 August.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Ebdon said: “I am really looking forward to taking up this key post at such an important time. Higher education offers life-changing opportunities and I strongly believe that everyone with the potential to benefit should be able to do so regardless of their family background or income.

“As Director, I fully intend to respect institutional autonomy and the diversity of the sector, working with both institutions and other sector bodies to understand what works best in improving access and retention and so make sure that the substantial investment in access measures has the greatest possible impact.

“Universities and colleges already make considerable efforts to attract and retain students from lower incomes and under-represented groups. My task will be to build on these efforts and achievements by providing greater support through good practice, analysis and research and also giving greater challenge around outcomes.

“OFFA has a hugely important role in helping the Government achieve its mission of improved social mobility. I look forward to working with the expanded OFFA team to ensure that universities and colleges do all they can reasonably be expected to do to help safeguard and improve fair access and retention in higher education.”

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Notes to editors

  1. For the Government announcement of Professor Ebdon’s appointment, see http://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=423368&SubjectId=15&DepartmentMode=true
  2. The position of Director of Fair Access to Higher Education is a statutory appointee (under section 31 of and Schedule 5 to the Higher Education Act 2004).
  3. The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is an independent, non-departmental public body established under the Higher Education Act 2004 to help promote and safeguard fair access to higher education. The main way we do this is by approving and monitoring ‘access agreements’. All English universities and colleges offering both full-time and part-time undergraduate higher education courses must have an access agreement with us in order to charge higher fees. Access agreements set out the fees an institution wishes to charge and the access measures they will put in place to sustain or improve access and student retention. Access measures include outreach (e.g. summer schools, mentoring, after-school tuition, links with schools and colleges in disadvantaged areas and activities to improve retention and success), and financial support such as bursaries and scholarships.
  4. For more about OFFA, please see our website www.offa.org.uk, particularly the Quick Facts and FAQ in the Press section.
  5. For further information, contact Zita Adamson, Communications Manager at OFFA, on 0117 931 7272 or Sophie Mason, Communications and Press Adviser on 0117 931 7204.


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