FIRST steps towards setting up a University for Industry were taken this week with the appointment of an advisory group from education and business.
The 13-strong group, which held its first meeting on Monday, is chaired by David Brown, chairman of Motorola. He expected the first stage of the UFI to be in place by April.
"The scale of the activity will increase steadily to match the demand that surely will be stimulated," he said. "The Government clearly wants to get on with implementing it."
Ministers have asked members to provide a first report within 100 days, describing what the UFI should be, how it will operate and what is needed to make it reality.
The group is also expected to devise effective ways of consulting on the project and of testing the UFI model. It will work closely with Bob Fryer's advisory group on continuing education and lifelong learning, which is helping the government prepare its autumn white paper.
A preliminary design for the UFI will be drawn up by the Institute of Public Policy Research, whose report last December, University for Industry: Creating a National Learning Network, will provide a base for the group's work.
Higher education minister Tessa Blackstone said the group would advise education secretary David Blunkett on all matters relating to design and implementation of the UFI "as a public/private sector partnership which will enable individuals and businesses to access high quality, relevant learning information, opportunities and materials".
The UFI would "revolutionise the way we learn", she said.
As well as Mr Brown, members of the UFI design and implementation group are: Matthew Evans, chairman, Library and Information Commission; John Gray, principal and chief executive, Newark and Sherwood College; Sir Geoffrey Holland, vice chancellor, Exeter University; Chris Humphries, chief executive, TEC National Council; Lesley James, director of human resources, Tesco; Diana Laurillard, pro vice chancellor, Open University; John Lloyd, national education and development officer, AEEU; Margaret Salmon, director of personnel, BBC; Cob Stenham, chairman, Arjo Wiggins Appleton plc; Wilf Stevenson, director, British Film Institute; Peter Welch, chairman, WSP Group; Michael Wills, MP.