1994 Group appoints Alex Bols as new Executive Director

The 1994 Group of leading universities has appointed Alex Bols, currently Assistant Director (Research) and Head of Higher Education at the NUS, as its new Executive Director.


Professor Michael Farthing, Chair of the 1994 Group and Vice Chancellor at the University of Sussex, said:


“I am delighted that we have been able to make this strong new appointment to the post of Executive Director for the 1994 Group. Alex’s insight and experience will be invaluable to the group, having worked over the last 12 years for both Universities UK and the NUS, as well as for a European-wide student group.


“Alex is respected throughout higher education and has been involved in some of the most important policy reforms of recent years.  In particular, Alex has been closely involved in measures to put the student experience at the heart of higher education. This an agenda to which the 1994 Group is firmly committed.


“I am confident that as the Group continues to champion a research-led high-quality student experience and extends its influence in UK HE development, Alex will prove an excellent Executive Director.”


Alex Bols said:


“The future of higher education in this country is wide open, with the Government’s radical policy reforms only just starting to take root. Institutions that combine world class research with outstanding teaching need to be at the forefront of Government thinking, and the value they offer students and wider society needs to be fully recognised. 1994 Group universities exemplify these features and have collectively offered one of the most constructive and innovative voices in higher education.  It’s an honour to be taking up this role with such a prestigious group of institutions and I look forward to working with them to build on the success they have already achieved.”


Alex Bols will formally take up the position of 1994 Group Executive Director in June 2012.





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Mark Fuller

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Notes to Editors:

1.    The 1994 Group represents the UK’s leading student-focused research-intensive universities. It was established in 1994 to promote excellence in University research and teaching.


2.  9 of the top 20 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2012 league tables are 1994 Group members. 5 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Sunday Times University League Table are 1994 Group members. 6 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Complete University Guide are 1994 Group members. The University of Bath is the Sunday Times University of the year.

3. The 1994Group represents: University of Bath, Birkbeck University of London,  University of East Anglia, University of Essex,  Goldsmiths University of London, Institute of Education University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Reading, University of St Andrews, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Surrey, University of Sussex.


4. Alex Bols joins the 1994 Group from the National Union of Students, where he was Assistant Director (Research) and Head of Higher Education. Alex was at NUS for four and a half years leading on their research and policy on enhancing the student learning experience. He has overseen the NUS/HSBC, and now NUS/QAA, Student Experience Research as well as leading on NUS’ engagement developing the new Institutional Review process in England and NI and the introduction of the Key Information Set. He also has forthcoming book chapters later this year on both feedback and assessment and has written and spoken extensively about the students as partners/consumers question.


Alex is currently a member of the UK team of Bologna Experts supporting developments towards a European Higher Education Area and sits on numerous sector committees including: HEFCE’s Teaching, Quality and Student Experience Strategic Advisory Committee; Quality in HE Group; HE Public Information Steering Group; HE Better Regulation Group; Teaching Funding Advisory Group and Performance Indicators Steering Group; and is an Alternate Director for the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.


Alex has just completed his Masters in Higher and Professional Education part-time at the Institute of Education and is also Chair of Governors in a primary school and children’s centre – having just gone from satisfactory to good in our recent OfSTED inspection.


Previously he was Senior Campaigns, Conferences and Events Officer at Universities UK working on a range of issues including producing Eureka:UK celebrating 50 years of research in UK universities; showcasing university-business links as well as promoting the wider public good role of universities.


Prior to which he was based in Brussels as Secretary-General of ESIB – the National Unions of Students in Europe (now the European Students’ Union) between 2001-2004. He was on the National Executive Committee of NUS 1999-2001 and President and Vice-President of the students’ union at the University of Southampton 1997-1999.

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