Huw Richards takes a look at the people who could (and who should) be involved in running the Dearing inquiry
A senior Department for Education and Employment official will be the secretary of the Dearing review of higher education.
Shirley Trundle, a grade five official now divisional manager for higher education, will head the five-strong secretariat which will support Sir Ron's deliberations.
A leading expert on Government inquiries said this week that the committee, which should be named by mid-April, should be able to complete its formidable task within the target period of 15 months.
Observers have suggested that, if other inquiries are a guide, the Dearing review is likely to overrun. But Peter Hennessy, professor of contemporary history at Queen Mary Westfield College, London, said: "Sir William Beveridge managed to deliver a comprehensive blueprint for social security, with all the distractions of the war going on around him, between 1941 and late 1942. We have got into the habit of what might be termed 'Scott syndrome', beset by delay and prolixity. Sir Ron should be able to avoid these pitfalls."
Professor Hennessy was speaking as groups invited to comment on Sir Ron's terms of reference and nominate inquiry members were completing their returns, which had to be in by Tuesday of this week.
Most groups chose to nominate by category, but the Association of University Teachers offered five individual nominations: Clive Booth, vice chancellor of Oxford Brookes University; Howard Davies, deputy governor of the Bank of England; Janet Finch, vice chancellor of Keele University; Peter Scott, professor of education, Leeds University; David Triesman, general secretary of AUT.
They also suggested that an international dimension might be provided by someone from the Centre for Higher Education Policy at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.
Reponses by members to the Committee of Vice Chancellors suggested that the membership should include up to four vice chancellors, a senior academic who is not a vice chancellor, a present or former chairman of council, one or two people with experience of leading British industry, student and further education representatives, a head teacher and a Royal Society or research council representative.
The Standing Conference of Principals asked for a representative of colleges within the broader remit of higher education while Patrick Coldstream, director of the Council for Industry and Higher Education, said CIHE would be calling for "sensible people to put the industrial point of view".
Mr Coldstream said CIHE was broadly happy with the outline terms of reference offered, but would point to the need to remember the higher education and advanced vocational work carried out in further education institutions.
Members of the Committee of Vice Chancellors felt that there was too much emphasis on the vocational as opposed to quality of life, good citizenship and cultural values and were concerned that the guiding principles questioned the Robbins principle of access for all qualified and able to benefit. The AUT wants the guiding principles to encompass long-term funding, career structures, training and rewards and institutional governance guaranteeing academic freedom.