1994 Group statement on OFFA access agreements guidance

The 1994 Group of leading research-intensive universities welcomes the greater emphasis placed on outreach in the OFFA’s new guidance on access agreements 2014-15.

Alex Bols, Executive Director of the 1994 Group, commented:

“We welcome OFFA’s renewed emphasis on outreach programmes. Time and again, evidence has shown that such programmes are the best way to widen participation at our most selective universities.

“The 1994 Group has long argued that going into schools at an earlier age is the best way to raise aspiration and attainment amongst the most disadvantaged, putting those students in a strong position to apply to leading universities.

“We are also encouraged by OFFA’s emphasis on evidence and outcome. Further progress on widening participation can only be made possible if universities are given rich data, enabling them to benchmark the effectiveness of different outreach schemes.

“However, this more nuanced, longer-term data cannot be collected by universities. Only the Government is in a position to track the impact of university outreach over a decade of a young person’s life, from the age of 7 to 17.

“For that reason we call on the Government to introduce an effective and safe means of tracking students. This might be through releasing relevant information from the National Pupil Database, or introducing non-identifying Unique Learner Numbers.”




Media Contact:
Sally Pickering

0207 664 4844


Notes to Editors


1. The 1994 Group represents 11 leading smaller universities. It was founded to promote excellence in research and teaching. According to the most recent assessments, 88% of its members’ research is internationally recognised (RAE 2008) and 88% of its members’ students were satisfied with their university experiences (NSS 2012). In 2011, its members added £1.7bn to the UK economy, fulfilled over 1800 research contracts for business, and held stakes in 34 spin-out companies.

2. 6 of the top 30 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2013 are 1994 Group members; 7 of the top 30 universities in the Complete University Guide 2012 are 1994 Group members;

 11 of the UK’s top-ranked research departments are in 1994 members, and all its members have a top-3 rated department for research excellence.

3. The 1994 Group represents Birkbeck, University of London; the University of East Anglia; the University of Essex; Goldsmiths, University of London; the Institute of Education, University of London; Royal Holloway, University of London; Lancaster University; the University of Leicester; Loughborough University; the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the University of Sussex.

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