Chris Millward’s four-year term of office as the first director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students (OfS) will end in December 2021, the OfS has confirmed today.
Chris Millward said today:
'It has been a great privilege to serve as the first director for fair access and participation at the OfS, every day of it inspired by the students and staff I have met in schools, colleges and universities across the country.
'When I started in 2018, we made fundamental changes to the way in which access and participation is regulated, giving universities and colleges more time to implement their plans, but expecting greater progress in return. We put more focus on supporting the most disadvantaged students beyond their entry to higher education and set standards for evaluating the impact of access and participation work.
'Since these reforms, I have seen a step change in the ambition and rigour of access and participation plans. This is yielding record levels of entry to the highest tariff universities for students from places that have benefited least from higher education expansion. Important steps have been made towards breaking the link between ethnicity, being awarded a good degree and progressing onto postgraduate study.
'My focus in the next seven months will be on driving further progress on these issues and supporting new opportunities through lifelong learning, so we truly open up the doors of our universities and colleges to everyone with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background.'
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said:
'Chris has done an exceptional job during his term as the OfS’s first director for fair access and participation. Under Chris’ leadership, universities and colleges have markedly increased their ambition. This can be seen both in ensuring that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to access higher education and – crucially – are supported to succeed once they get there. Chris has been clear in articulating that unexplained gaps in attainment and outcomes for students from different backgrounds must be closed without any compromise to quality and standards.
'The way in which Chris has worked has commanded enormous respect – from colleagues here at the OfS, to the universities and colleges we regulate, the students he has met and all those with a shared interest in achieving equality of opportunity for all students. His thoughtful, considered and proactive approach has been of huge benefit to the OfS and the result of his work will reap rewards, with lives being transformed through the power of higher education.'
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said:
'I would like to thank Chris for his work over the last four years, during and since the set-up of the OfS and throughout the ongoing pandemic, and to wish him all the best for the future. I am very grateful for all Chris’ achievements, in particular securing an increase in the proportion of disadvantaged students gaining admission to most selective universities and developing a greater focus on outcomes and evidence.
'We will shortly begin the process of appointing the next director for fair access and participation and more information will be coming soon.'