Higher education

New director to lead ‘reboot’ of HE access

The government have appointed John Blake as the next OfS access lead.

The government have appointed John Blake as the next OfS access lead.

The higher education regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), has today named John Blake as its new director for fair access and participation.

Blake, currently head of public affairs and engagement at Ark, the charity which operates multi academy trust Ark Schools will succeed Chris Millward whose four year term of office expires at the end of December 2021.

The director for fair access and participation is a statutory position, established in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 which also established the Office for Students. The £130k a year post is one of two executive positions reporting directly to the OfS board appointed by the secretary of state. The other being the chief executive.

Under the Act, Blake assumes a range of powers to approve, monitor, and report on higher education providers’ performance against their access and participation plans. Colleges that deliver higher education, as well as universities, are required to develop and publish these plans.

This appointment comes at the same time as higher and further education minister Michelle Donelan will, in a speech today, announce a “change of focus” in higher education widening participation efforts “towards positive graduate outcomes” and pre-18 attainment.

As the new director for fair access and participation, Blake will be charged with leading on this new strategy.

“I am delighted to be appointed as director for fair access and participation. I look forward to working with universities and colleges to ensure that young people from all backgrounds are able to access the education that is right for their achievements and aspirations” John Blake said.

“I am especially keen to see further development of partnerships between higher education providers and groups of schools to improve attainment for disadvantaged young people throughout their schooling, providing them the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to access higher education. 

“But attainment and access are only the first steps: they need to be matched by participation and success. It is crucial that students are able to study on high quality courses which meet their needs, and are then supported so they are ready to embark on rewarding lives and careers after graduating.”



More from this theme

Higher education

Open University to partner with colleges to fill higher technical education cold spots

The government has backed the initiative with £10 million - cash which will be used to 'increase the capability'...

Will Nott
Higher education

IfS: 1 in 4 poorer pupils could lose out under proposed student loan grade thresholds

Around 1 in 10 recent education undergrads would also have been excluded, think tank warns

Freddie Whittaker
Higher education, Lifelong Learning, Skills reform

Lifelong learning loans consultation finally launched

A long-awaited consultation on the government's flagship lifelong learning scheme points to limitations and restrictions.

Shane Chowen
Higher education, Lifelong Learning, Skills reform

‘Get on with it’ – government unveils lifelong learning plans

Long-awaited plans for lifelong learning loans have been revealed as part of the government's higher education funding reforms.

Shane Chowen
Higher education

‘Ladder-up not levelling-up’: DfE urged to rethink student loan grade threshold plan

Ministers are considering blocking pupils without certain grades from getting student finance

Freddie Whittaker
Higher education

‘Pull your weight’ on pre-16 attainment, colleges told

The new OfS fair access director will address the sector for the first time later today.

Shane Chowen

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

2 Comments

  1. Great to see the new Director fail to mention on how Colleges will work with universities, instead reverting to his previous role in academies he states above;

    “I am especially keen to see further development of partnerships between higher education providers and groups of schools to improve attainment for disadvantaged young people throughout their schooling, providing them the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to access higher education. ”

    How many times do we need to say AND COLLEGES!!!!!!

  2. Andy Forbes

    Like many school sector leaders he has probably had little experience of FE, but he seems to have his head screwed on so it shouldn’t take long for him to realise the pivotal role of FE Colleges up and down the country in bridging the gap between disadvantaged communities and University education. It’s up to us to make sure we get the message across.