Her appointment follows the departure of Clare Marchant in September 2023, after 6 years in the position, to take up the role of Vice Chancellor at the University of Gloucestershire.
Trudy Norris-Grey, UCAS Board Chair said: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Jo Saxton as UCAS’ next Chief Executive.
“Dr Saxton brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise coupled with a proven track record of transformative leadership in education. We are confident that Dr Saxton is well-placed to lead UCAS as it looks to advance its charitable aims including the broad widening participation objectives across undergraduate study and apprenticeships.”
Dr Jo Saxton said: “I am absolutely delighted to be taking up the opportunity to serve as UCAS’ Chief Executive. In all my education roles I’ve seen what a powerful difference can be made to students of all ages when they are given the opportunities to achieve. UCAS is at the heart of this, supporting 1.5 million students every year to explore higher education, employment and apprenticeships.
“There is much work still to be done and I am excited by the prospect of working with, students, providers, staff and all those with an interest, so that UCAS delivers its ambitious plans and continues to put students right at the core of everything we do.”
Dr Saxton joins UCAS from Ofqual where she was appointed as Chief Regulator of Qualifications in 2021. Jo has worked across almost every phase of education from Early Years through to university. She has led Multi-Academy Trusts and served as a Senior Civil Servant in the Department for Education.
Dr Saxton is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and holds Masters and Doctoral degrees from New York University. In 2022 the University of Buckingham awarded Dr Saxton an Honorary PhD from the School of Education.
Dr Saxton will join UCAS in January 2024.
Sander Kristel, Chief Operating Officer at UCAS, will act as interim Chief Executive.
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Notes for editors
UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education.
Our services support young people making post-18 choices, as well as mature learners, by providing information, advice, and guidance to inspire and facilitate educational progression to university, college, or an apprenticeship.
We support 1.5 million students every year to explore entering higher education, employment and apprenticeships and manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.
We also provide a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies, and employers, including apprenticeships.
We’re a successful and fast-growing organisation, which helps hundreds of thousands of people every year. We're committed to delivering a first-class service to all our customers — they're at the heart of everything we do.