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University Alliance appoints first Director

A leading higher education policy expert has been appointed to shape policy on behalf of 23 universities at the core of the UK higher education sector. Libby Aston, former Director of Research at the Russell Group, has joined the University Alliance as its first Director just as the Chair of the Alliance moves from Professor John Craven at Portsmouth to Professor Janet Beer at Oxford Brookes.

This appointment will build on the existing work of the Alliance which has recently demonstrated its research strength in the 2008 RAE and has some of the highest scores for student satisfaction and graduate employment.

As the majority voice in the sector, there is a clear need for the Alliance to impact policy-making in Westminster and Whitehall on issues of primary importance to these universities such as maintaining the UK’s high-quality brand and competitive position, supporting cutting-edge research excellence with relevance to the UK economy, increasing engagement with new and emerging industries, enhancing the student experience, promoting social engagement and equipping graduates for the 21stcentury in uncertain economic times.

Libby Aston said: “With increasing global competition, pressure on public funding and a major review of fees policy and research funding, this is a crucial time for the sector.  The University Alliance is in an excellent position to lead on policies that will shape the future of higher education in the UK. Their balance of strength in teaching and research, active engagement with leading modern industries and major contribution to social mobility puts them at the heart of the higher education sector and ensures the group is well-placed to provide crucial evidence and play a vital role in improving national decision-making.”

Chair of the University Alliance and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Professor Janet Beer, said: “I am delighted that Libby Aston has been appointed to champion the work of the University Alliance. With substantial experience of working in higher education policy, I know we have someone in Libby with sharp analytical ability and a keen sense of how the university sector can be improved.”

Libby Aston has worked in the national higher education policy environment for 9 years. She was Director of Research at the Russell Group and prior to that was a Special Advisor to the Education and Skills Select Committee. Libby has significant research experience and has worked for the Higher Education Policy Institute and Higher Education Funding Council of England.

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Notes for Editors:

Established in 2007, the Alliance group comprises a mixture of pre and post 1992 universities with balanced portfolios of excellence in teaching, research and enterprise. Alliance universities are actively engaged in their economic and social environments with close links to the creative industries and the professions and a deep-rooted commitment to access through flexible provision. Alliance universities educate more students than any other university mission group in the UK within a research-led learning environment, equipping graduates for the 21st century.

Members of the University Alliance:  Aberystwyth University, Bournemouth University, University of Bradford, De Montfort University,  University of Glamorgan,  University of Gloucestershire,  University of Hertfordshire, University of Huddersfield,  University of Kent, University of Lincoln, Liverpool John Moores University,  Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, Nottingham Trent University, Open University, Oxford Brookes University, University of Plymouth,  University of Portsmouth,   University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam University,  University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales, Newport, University of the West of England.

For further information, please contact:

Kate Moore, Communications, Oxford Brookes University,  01865 484454

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