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OFFA approves University’s Access Agreement

17 Jul 2015

The University’s Access Agreement for 2016/17 has been approved by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).

The University has adopted a life-cycle approach to its Access Agreement

In its Access Agreement, the University sets out the measures it will take to attract disadvantaged students and to support them during their studies and as they prepare to move on to work or further study. The University’s Access Agreement and targets are crucial to its Manchester 2020 strategy and the core goals of delivering an outstanding learning and student experience and being a socially responsible institution.

The University has adopted a life-cycle approach to its Access Agreement and widening participation (WP) strategy in order to support students throughout the course of their study and into employment or further study.  Within the Access Agreement the University sets out the activities it will take and how it will monitor and evaluate the success of these interventions and measures against the targets it has set. Each university and college with an access agreement sets their own targets depending on their own individual circumstances. These targets are then subject to OFFA’s approval.

The University of Manchester currently performs towards the top of the English Russell Group for the proportion of students entering the University from disadvantaged backgrounds, and has set targets to continue this year-on-year increase.  In addition to targets relating to students entering the University, the institution has set targets to improve the continuation rate of students from low household incomes and narrow any gap between WP and non-WP students achieving successful employability outcomes.

Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said: “The work and ambition universities and colleges have committed to today will transform lives. The outreach work universities have planned will open the door to higher education for people who might otherwise have thought it was not for them. The people that universities work with now will go on to be the doctors, business leaders and engineers of the future.”

The University has continued to invest in its package of financial support for students, providing students from the lowest household incomes with an annual bursary. Details of the financial support students can access from 2016 entry can be found on our finance pages.

Stephanie Lee, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach, said: “The University’s 2016/17 Access Agreement continues to build on the excellent work that takes place across the institution to ensure that students from widening participation backgrounds realise their potential and ambition. Responsibility for achieving the University’s Access Agreement ambition is shared across the institution, within the Directorate for the Student Experience and central Professional Support Services, in our Academic Schools, our cultural institutions, the University Library and the Students Union.  This coordinated approach that takes place across the student life-cycle is fundamental to the University’s success and future progress to improves access and outcomes for students from widening participation backgrounds. This is underpinned by the continued investment the University makes to deliver its Access Agreement, placing us in the top quartile of the English Russell Group for the proportion of higher fee income we allocate to this work and student financial support.”

The University’s Access Agreement which includes the targets and milestones can be accessed here.


The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is an independent, non-departmental public body established under the Higher Education Act 2004 to help promote and safeguard fair access to higher education for people from under-represented groups. All English universities and colleges that wish to charge higher fees must make plans to promote and sustain fair access, including outreach (e.g. summer schools, mentoring, after-school tuition, links with schools and colleges in disadvantaged areas), activities to improve retention and success, and financial support such as bursaries and scholarships. The plans are called access agreements and must be agreed with OFFA, which then monitors their implementation.

All higher education institutions charging higher tuition fees are required to put measures in place to attract disadvantaged students, and to support them during their studies and as they prepare to move on to work or further study. Within the Access Agreement, universities are required to set out the proportion of higher fee income they are investing in these measures and set themselves targets to increase the proportion of learners from under-represented and disadvantaged groups who enter, succeed in and are well prepared to progress from higher education to employment or postgraduate study

Access agreements for 2016-17: key statistics and analysis, are published at