After months of speculation about who will fill Sir Howard Newby's shoes as chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the panel making the recommendation has finally met. But its make-up has caused raised eyebrows. The only institutional representative is Jackie Fisher, principal of Newcastle College of Further Education. She is joined by Hefce chair David Young and Peter Saraga, formerly managing director of Philips Research Laboratories UK, with Alan Wilson, director-general of higher education at the Department for Education and Skills, standing over them as an independent assessor. This may dodge accusations of an old pals' network, but universities will doubtless be miffed they don't get a look in.