Anthony McClaran, acting chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, faces a test of his own this week. Not only is he experiencing his first results day in charge, but record numbers of students are expected to enter the clearing process.
He has been deputy chief executive of Ucas since 1996 and acting chief executive since January. The former incumbent, Tony Higgins, retired last month after seven months off work following a major bypass operation.
Mr McClaran is seen as intellectual and discreet, with impeccable manners. He read English and American literature at Kent University and went on to do a masters degree in medieval studies at the University of York, where he met his future wife.
The couple then moved to Warwick University, where Mr McClaran worked under registrar Mike Shattock, who said of him: "Anthony is quite a principled individual, more than most people. He has an academic style and he handles questions gracefully: he doesn't get himself caught in an argument but has a discussion style. He could have been a first-class academic."
Mr McClaran was promoted to assistant registrar and then senior registrar before moving with Paul Bolton to Hull University in 1992 as academic registrar. But the transfer was not a success. Despite being offered the job of registrar and secretary, Mr McClaran accepted the role only in an acting capacity and, soon after, joined Ucas as head of academic services and development.
Since then, he has taken on additional roles. He is a member of the council of Gloucestershire University, where his wife works, and was recently elected to the executive committee of the Association of University Administrators. His external responsibilities have increased recently: he has joined the Higher Education Funding Council for England's widening participation strategic committee and Steven Schwartz's group on admissions practice.