New interim Director of Fair Access

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced that the Director of Fair Access, Sir Martin Harris, is stepping down from his duties while he receives treatment for cancer. His role will be filled on an interim basis by a new director, Sir Graeme Davies, Vice-Chancellor Emeritus of the University of London. Sir Graeme took over full responsibilities of the Director of Fair Access, including responsibility for 2012-13 access agreements, from 28 May 2011 on a three-month interim contract.

In the BIS statement, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Sir Martin has successfully established the role of Director for Fair Access and in doing so has promoted fair access within every university. His contribution to widening participation and helping drive social mobility in this country should not be underestimated.”

Sir Martin said: “Clearly, I regret being out of action at this important juncture but I heartily welcome Sir Graeme Davies as my replacement. I’ve worked with Graeme on many projects over more than 20 years and have complete confidence in his ability to hit the ground running.”

Sir Graeme said: “The opportunity to benefit from higher education can be life changing. I look forward to working with the staff at OFFA and with the sector to improve access and promote opportunity.”

Under Sir Graeme, OFFA will continue its work assessing the access agreements that universities and colleges have submitted for 2012-13. All universities that want to charge fees of more than £6,000 in 2012-13 must have an access agreement approved by the Director of Fair Access.


Notes to editors

  • 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 full-time (and in future, part-time, subject to Parliamentary approval) undergraduate higher education courses must have an access agreement with us in order to charge higher fees. Access agreements set out the access measures (e.g. outreach or financial support) that universities and colleges will put in place.
  • For more about OFFA, please see our website, particularly the Quick Facts and FAQ in the Press section.
  • Sir Graeme is Vice-Chancellor Emeritus, University of London. He was the University’s Vice-Chancellor from 2003-2010, having previously served as vice-chancellor at the universities of Glasgow (1995-2003) and Liverpool (1986-91). He was Chief Executive successively of the Universities Funding Council (1991-93), the Polytechnics & Colleges Funding Council (1992-93) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (1992-95). Sir Graeme is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Honorary Graduate of the Universities of Liverpool, Strathclyde, Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham and Edinburgh, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College of Music. He received a knighthood in 1996 for services to higher education. Sir Graeme graduated BE, PhD from the University of Auckland and MA, ScD from St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
  • Sir Martin’s contract as Director of Fair Access was due to run until October 2011.
  • For the BIS release, see
  • For further information, contact OFFA on 0117 931 7171.