Vacancy: Policy Adviser

Policy Adviser

Two year fixed-term post or secondment

Pay band 7 (£28,624 – £30,056)

Based in Bristol

Would you like to use your judgement, analytical and project management skills to help break down the barriers that stop people from disadvantaged backgrounds from going into higher education?

We are the independent public body that regulates fair access to higher education in England. In practice, that means that English universities and colleges must gain our approval for their plans to improve access for people from under-represented groups, and show us that they are meeting the commitments they’ve made.

OFFA’s policy advisers work closely with those universities and colleges, each taking responsibility for relationships with 20-30 institutions. This means looking at what they are doing, deciding if that meets our expectations and advising them (or negotiating) if there are things we need them to do differently. Much of this is subjective so, with support from the team, they must make sound judgements around complex, nuanced issues.

Alongside other members of the policy team, an aspect of your role will be to support the OFFA’s transition to the new Office for Students, which will take on OFFA’s functions from April 2018.

If you’d like to join this team, we would very much like to hear from you. You’ll need to have excellent project management skills, a confident and positive approach, and be able to work effectively with others at all levels. You’ll need to be comfortable analysing data and information, and presenting the results both verbally and in writing. And you’ll need some experience, knowledge or interest in English higher education.

OFFA is a small organisation of around 30 people, so you’ll work flexibly to contribute across the organisation and help meet changing priorities. That means you’ll enjoy considerable autonomy, deputise for senior staff on occasion and contribute to our strategy and policy development, for example inputting into our work to improve understanding of the most effective approaches to improving access. It also means you’ll need to work effectively with others at all levels – in a single day you might be talking to data analysts, senior managers or frontline outreach staff at a variety of universities and colleges, government advisers and OFFA’s senior managers. 

In return, we’ll support you to develop your career, grow your skills and build on your strengths, working within a friendly, close-knit team.

All staff on current OFFA contracts will, under government legislation from April 2018 become members of the new Office for Students based at the same office location. If you would like to ask for more information about this please contact

Benefits include 25 days’ annual leave (pro rata), a comprehensive staff development programme, and the opportunity to join the Civil Service Pension scheme.

OFFA is supported through a service level agreement with the Higher Education Funding Council for England and staff are covered by the same pay, conditions and human resourcing policies.  

For further information and to apply (CVs will not be accepted) please visit HEFCE’s recruitment website at

Job description 

Person specification


Whilst the current Government recruitment restrictions apply, only internal candidates and candidates from eligible Civil Service departments or accredited non departmental public bodies (NDPBs) can apply for posts advertised by OFFA within the first 10 working days. For this post, that is between 2 October 2017 and midnight on 16 October 2017.

Eligible Civil Service departments and accredited NDPBs are defined on the Civil Service website. Candidates who are not currently employed in an eligible Civil Service department will not be considered for the vacancy in the first 10 days. Please note for fixed term appointments we will only be able to offer those candidates currently employed on a permanent contract with an eligible Civil Service department this role on a secondment basis, you should gain your current employer’s in-principle approval for a secondment prior to interview.

If there is an adequate candidate pool after the initial 10 working days advertised, i.e. by midnight on the 16 October 2017, we will close the vacancy on that date. Therefore internal candidates and candidates currently employed on permanent or fixed term contracts within the Civil Service or accredited NDPBs should apply within the first 10 days of the vacancy being advertised.

If recruitment is within the Civil Service or accredited NDPBs, the selection process will take place on w/c 16 October 2017.

If we have been unable to gain an adequate candidate pool after 10 working days we will accept applications from individuals external to the Civil Service. The deadline for applications from outside the Civil Service is 30 October 2017.

If recruitment includes applications from individuals external to the Civil Service, the selection process will take place in w/c 30 October 2017.