As director of policy at the English funding council, Bahram Bekhradnia this week appeared in front of the Commons select committee on science as part of its inquiry into the research assessment exercise.
Although he is best known for overseeing the RAE, Mr Bekhradnia takes a far wider view of higher education. He is responsible for the development of all the council's policies, a strategic role incorporating teaching and research, access and retention, expanding student numbers and business links.
Mr Bekhradnia, with his trademark colourful bow ties, has worked at the Higher Education Funding Council for England for more than a decade. He became director of policy on its formation in 1992, having worked briefly for the University Funding Council. He spent his early career in the Department for Education and Science, rising to head of the teacher supply division.
Since joining the funding council, Mr Bekhradnia has overseen the development of new methodologies for the funding of teaching and research, and the conduct and review of the RAE. He chairs the steering group overseeing the development of performance indicators for higher education.
Based in north Oxford, Mr Bekhradnia is a fan of Oxford United Football Club. He adopted the nation's favourite game along with all things English after coming to Britain from Iran as a baby. His father, a soldier in the Persian Army, was blinded in a war with the Soviet Union and came to Britain for medical treatment in 1947; he and his mother followed.
As a boy, he won a scholarship to Wellington College, an independent boarding school (though he sent his three children to the local state school). He won an exhibition scholarship to University College, Oxford, where he read classics. Mr Bekhradnia was a contemporary of Bill Clinton's - "I didn't realise he wasn't inhaling," he said.