Applications open for chair of new Office for Students

Applications are open for the chair of the Office for Students, a new body designed to increase competition and choice in higher education.

Higher education in the UK enjoys a world-class reputation, with globally renowned teaching and cutting-edge research and innovation. However, the higher education landscape has changed fundamentally since the last major legislative reforms of 1992, leaving us with a university system that needs important reform to fulfil its potential and to sustain our global standing.

Combining the existing regulatory functions of Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), the Office for Students (OfS) will act as a single body to regulate the sector with a strong focus on choice and competition. This includes a renewed focus on widening participation and ensuring more students from disadvantaged backgrounds can benefit from studying at the UK’s world class universities.

The OfS chair, subject to parliamentary approval, will be tasked with leading the creation of the OfS and setting out its direction in the coming years working with the executive team and the board. The chair will also take a leading role in the formation of the OfS including advising the Secretary of State on the recruitment and selection of the non-executive board and key executive positions, ensuring they incorporate a range of experience noted in the bill and reflect the diversity of the sector.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

"By creating the Office for Students, we will put student choice, teaching quality and social mobility at the top of the agenda in higher education.

"The role of the chair will be vital in delivering this aim and ensuring there is direct link with the sector. I look forward to working with the successful applicant on delivering these important reforms."

Candidates will be shortlisted and interviewed by a panel that will be chaired by a public appointments commissioner and includes Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, David Currie, Chair of the Competition and Markets Authority and Neil Carberry, Director for People and Skills at the CBI, alongside a government representative.

Further details on the role of the Office for Students are set out in the government’s white paper published in May this year.

More details about the OfS chair role is available. Applications close at 11:59pm on 24 November 2016.