Nottingham's Dr Penelope Griffin takes widening participation to the next level

28 Feb 2013 15:54:57.070

Dr Penelope Griffin, Head of Widening Participation at The University of Nottingham, has devoted much of her career to increasing access to higher education for people from less advantaged backgrounds. She has today been appointed to the Office for Fair Access’ advisory group to continue this work at a national level.

The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is an independent public body that helps safeguard and promote fair access to higher education. In this new role, Dr Griffin will advise the Director of Fair Access Professor Les Ebdon.

Dr Griffin has over a decade of experience in policy development and change implementation relating to widening participation. The University of Nottingham has a number of outreach programmes at both primary and secondary school level, as well as generous bursary arrangements and a flexible admissions policy. These initiatives have seen the intake of students from low income backgrounds rise over six percentage points since 2004. 

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Addressing government policy

Dr Griffin said: “I feel honoured to have this opportunity to contribute to OFFA’s work in safeguarding access to higher education for students from less advantaged backgrounds. I am particularly excited by the prospect of helping to address some of the challenges currently before us. These include the impact of the Government’s student number control policy, which is likely to be greater for students from less advantaged backgrounds, who are less likely to have A level grades at ABB.

“Another challenge is addressing the complexity of the financial support currently available: there is evidence that this results in many students not understanding what is available at the crucial point of making decisions about higher education.  

“I would like to help make OFFA policy even more effective in terms of influencing what happens in universities. I would also like to be able to influence broader services and policies nationally so that students from less advantaged backgrounds have a better experience of the whole higher education process. And I’m really keen to learn more about the sector and about current Government thinking.”

Widening access at Nottingham

The University of Nottingham launched Nottingham Potential in January 2011 to help some of the most deprived young people in the East Midlands to reach university. Representing a significant expansion of the University’s work over the last decade in local schools, Nottingham Potential provides new learning centres in the community to support pupils ages 7-18, two more summer schools, support for GCSE students, Teaching Fellowships and more.

Dr Griffin and the other newly appointed members on OFFA’s advisory group who will join the  three existing members Dr John Selby, former Director at the Higher Education Funding Council for England; Dr Lee Elliot Major, Director of Development and Policy at the Sutton Trust; and Aaron Porter, education consultant and former President of the National Union of Students.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia; according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2012, ‘Of all the British universities, Nottingham has embraced internationalism the most.’ It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK by 2012 application numbers, and ‘the world’s greenest university’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

Story credits

More information is available from  Dr Penelope Griffin, Head of Widening Participation, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 3995,

Fraser Wilson - Communications Officer

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 6691 Location: University Park

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