While lending itself to "poacher turned gamekeeper" treatment, the appointment of former Association of University Teachers general secretary Diana Warwick as chief executive of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals is also evidence of the CVCP's determination to seek a more proactive role.
Ms Warwick, 50 next month, takes up her appointment in September after three years as director of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Her working partnership with incoming CVCP chairman Gareth Roberts, a similarly outgoing and media-wise personality, will give the organisation a very different style to the diffidence of the current team of Ken Edwards and ex-civil servant Tom Burgner.
She said: "It is important that the CVCP set the agenda as well as responding to it, and it needs to be better at this." Her role was one of policy implementation, but she said she also intended to have her say on policy issues, adding: "I think the people who appointed me recognise me as somebody with strong views on a range of issues."
Her appointment was hailed as "showing tremendous vision" by David Triesman, her successor as general secretary of the AUT. Ms Warwick said the tendency for trade unionists to be snapped up by employer organisations was a tribute to their union experience and skills.
After three years of international work, Ms Warwick looks forward to an intensive spell of reacquainting herself with higher education.
"Inevitably I'm a little out of touch. Some of the issues haven't changed in ten years, let alone three. But there are others such as quality which have grown enormously in importance in the past three years," she said.
She has been closely identified with the Labour Party and says that her close contact with policymakers will be valuable if there is a change of government. "But I also have similarly close contact with policymakers under the current Government. Influencing policy agendas has been a consistent element in my working life," she added. She hopes to maintain her membership of the Nolan committee on standards in public life.
Her appointment strengthens the trend to senior female appointments, including several recent vice chancellors, but she argues that there is still much more to be done: "The trend is welcome, but the current levels are still pathetic".