Office for Students response to Russell Group Pathways for Potential report

The Office for Students (OfS) has responded to the Russell Group's new report.

Group of five students sat at a table in a library

Responding to the Russell Group’s new report ‘Pathways for Potential: How universities, regulators and Government can tackle educational inequality’, Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said:

‘I welcome this report and the commitments made by Russell Group universities in the plans they have agreed with us to transform opportunities for students who are underrepresented in higher education. There has been clear progress in opening up opportunities to study at the most selective universities, but where you come from continues significantly to determine where you end up. There is still a long way to go before these opportunities are genuinely available across all parts of the country.

‘The Russell Group is right to highlight the importance of collaboration. That’s why we are funding Uni Connect partnerships to give impartial information, advice and guidance to 1,613 schools and colleges, reaching over 180,000 young people and their parents in areas where fewer people go to university. We are also funding the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO), an independent what works centre which will generate and share evidence of effective approaches used by different universities, and working with the higher education tracking services to ensure that universities can demonstrate the benefits of their outreach work – wherever the student ends up.

‘We support the Russell Group’s aim for universities to be able to access more individualised data so they can identify those students who are most critically disadvantaged, and will continue to work with UCAS and the Department for Education towards achieving this, whilst ensuring the protection of student data.

‘The current crisis has revealed different experiences and outcomes across our educational system, so it is more important than ever to make progress on tackling inequality in higher education. We are working to ensure that vulnerable and disadvantaged students receive the best possible support during the coronavirus outbreak, and we will be looking to universities to get back on track with their plans to address equality gaps as the nation moves out of lockdown.’

For further information contact Aislinn Keogh on 07342 025 423 or [email protected].


  1. The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Our aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.
  2. For more information on the commitments made by universities in their access and participation plans, see our publication 'Transforming opportunity in higher education'.
  3. See more information about the OfS Uni Connect programme.
  4. See more information about TASO.
  5. See more information about the Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT).
Published 27 May 2020

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