20 February 2012

Les Ebdon to be next Director for Fair Access

Responding to the announcement by BIS Ministers that Professor Les Ebdon, Chair of the university think-tank million+ and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, is to be the next Director of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), Professor Michael Driscoll, Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University and million+ Executive Member, said: “million+ is delighted that Professor Les Ebdon has been appointed the next Director for Fair Access. Les Ebdon is well-respected by students and all universities for his commitment to widening participation and he will ensure that social mobility is centre stage in the new fees and funding regime.

“Universities are clear that fair access is about a partnership between universities and schools and colleges and that improvements need to be made on all sides. Universities are already working hard to increase participation by students from a wide range of backgrounds but it is right that they should continue to consider how well they are doing and this is one of important roles for the new Director for Fair Access.

“OFFA was created under the 2004 HE Act as a result of the concern of students that higher fee loans might prove to be a deterrent to those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. The Government’s own HE White Paper raised the possibility that the Director of OFFA might need enhanced powers in a landscape where fees and loans have trebled. By appointing Les Ebdon, universities, students and Ministers can be confident that the principles of fair access will be upheld.”

Notes to editors:

  1. In view of his appointment as the next Director of the Office for Fair Access, Professor Les Ebdon will be stepping down as Chair of million+.
  2. million+ is a leading university think-tank, working to solve the complex problems in higher education www.millionplus.ac.uk. For more information please contact Victoria Mills on 0207 717 1659 or 07900 277819.
  3. The full statement issued by Vince Cable and David Willetts can be found here. A letter from Vince Cable to Adrian Bailey, Chair of the BIS Select Committee, setting out his response to the Committee’s Pre-Appointment Hearing on the Appointment of Director of the Office for Fair Access can be found here.