Sir Ron Dearing can hardly be faulted for his willingness to take on a challenge. But there are signs he is growing a tad tired of the latest he has set himself - to complete the higher education inquiry report by mid-July. At the launch of a new Japanese language centre in London last week, he thanked his hosts for introducing him as "currently" chairman of the higher education inquiry.
"The blessed word is 'currently'. I'll be glad when the whole thing's over," he quipped. Sir Ron, who visited Japan on a fact-finding tour for the inquiry, has been invited to return in November for a science conference. The chances of his being allowed to forget the inquiry are slim, however. The Japanese are unlikely to let him forget they are conducting their own higher education review.