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Meet the Strategy, policy and public affairs (SPPA) team
John Cope - Director of Strategy, Policy, & Public Affairs
John has worked in politics, communications, and policy for the last decade. Alongside UCAS, John is a board member of a government body, the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education, and an elected local councillor.
Originally from the Midlands, before joining UCAS John was deputy director of Public First, an education consultancy and polling company; worked with business leaders across the UK as Head of Education & Skills Policy at the CBI; advised three former education ministers; and was a founding director of the Education Policy Institute. Outside of work, John is non-executive director of the Activate Learning group of colleges, trustee of the charity Achievement for All, and is a governor of a special needs secondary school.
Caitlin de Jode – Public Affairs Adviser
As Public Affairs Adviser, Caitlin leads on UCAS' work to build and strengthen relationships with parliamentarians, ministers and officials across all four nations of the UK. Her role includes working closely with colleagues across the policy and communications teams to ensure our research outputs have the maximum impact, and can result in tangible policy change.
Prior to joining UCAS, Caitlin worked for the education charity, Teach First, managing their public affairs activities. While at Teach First, she played a key role in managing the charity's external response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including leading on external communications regarding the delivery of the National Tutoring Programme. She has also worked for a leading public affairs and communications consultancy, supporting clients including the Northern Powerhouse, Mars, and International Airlines Group, and in the University of Cambridge's widening participation team. Outside of work she is a keen cook and sportswoman, having previously represented Northern Ireland in volleyball, and currently plays in the second row for Hackney RFC.
Ben Jordan – Head of Policy
Ben has been at UCAS for over a decade and has been described as a ‘leading figure of HE admissions policy’, with his knowledge in this area ‘second to none’. During his time at UCAS, Ben had led the response and engagement around every major political event that could impact on student progression, including Brexit, admissions reform, qualification reform, Scottish independence, general elections, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, which involved forming part of three separate ministerial taskforces.
Ben has also overseen the delivery of UCAS’ key policy outputs, including Unpacking Qualification Reform, the first major report on schools’ response to qualification reform, Where Next?, a leading piece on student decision making, What happened to the COVID cohort?, the definitive assessment of the impact of the pandemic on student progression, and Starting the Conversation, UCAS’ landmark piece on student mental health, and most recently, Next Steps, a first of its kind report looking at the sentiment of LGBT+ students as they progress to university or college.
Kim Eccleston – Head of Strategy and Reform
Kim has responsibility for strategic oversight of UCAS’ corporate strategy, ensuring that the business is aligned on what it is trying to achieve. She also leads on the continual reform the Strategy sets out, by driving engagement and readiness at a strategic level across UCAS and with external stakeholders and customers to enable the effective adoption of system reform, whether incremental or substantial. This includes apprenticeships, international education, and lifelong learning. Kim is also responsible for Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Sustainability at UCAS.
Before joining UCAS, Kim developed a successful career in higher education administration through roles in the sector covering Governance, Outreach, Student Recruitment and Admissions, including Head of Admissions at the University of Warwick where Kim lead her team to win a national award in recognition of a transformational process review.
Richard O’Kelly – Head of Analytical Data
Richard leads on designing and creating UCAS’s analytical data platform, its data assets and enabling a data-led culture within UCAS. As Head of Analytical Data, Richard is accountable for UCAS’s public benefit program of daily statistical releases, analytical commentary and generating an understanding of key sector-wide trends and issues.
Richard joined UCAS in 2014, having previously worked as an IT consultant – with a range of clients ranging from tech start-ups to large enterprises – to help teams deliver great solutions.
With a passion for technology, open data and objective analysis, Richard is proud to inform policy and debate through UCAS’s data.
The team works to offer meaningful context and insight into the behaviour and attitudes of applicants and students through our suite of reports, briefs and insights. These publications bring together UCAS’ end of cycle data, survey findings, and knowledge of the HE policy landscape to explore a broad range of topics, spotlighting issues important to the sector and identifying key patterns and trends.Read our publications
In addition, the team coordinates and oversees UCAS’ response to sector consultations, ensuring that our views represent the best interests of our customer groups, and align with the core principles and values we outline in our corporate strategy, Discover your future.Read our responses to the latest sector consultations