OFFA responds to Prime Minister’s comments on fair access

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s Sunday Times article on fair access to higher education, Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said:

“I welcome the Prime Minister’s continued personal commitment to fair access to higher education. He is right to highlight the wide gaps – both in access and outcomes – between students of different ethnic backgrounds.

“It is important that universities retain responsibility for their own admissions policies but I am very pleased to see the commitment to increased data and transparency around the make-up of those applying to university. This will build on information which is already made available by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

“Following sustained progress over the last ten years people from disadvantaged backgrounds are now more likely to enter higher education than ever before. Under the access agreements they must agree with me if they want to charge higher tuition fees, universities and colleges plan to invest £750million annually by 2019-20 on activities and financial support to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education and succeed in their studies.

“The Prime Minister has set out ambitious goals on fair access and it’s important that universities and colleges have the tools, support and challenge to make further and faster progress. I will shortly be publishing guidance for institutions who wish to have an access agreement in 2017-18. This guidance will make clear that universities must focus more sharply on the outcomes of their fair access work. I will challenge them to match the Prime Minister’s ambition so that anyone with the ability to succeed in higher education has the opportunity to do so, whatever their background.”


For further information contact Sean Beynon (OFFA Acting Head of Communications) on 07795 257374, or email

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