In the news: Matti Alderson

March 22, 2002

Matti Alderson faces a struggle to make her report on university regulation relevant. As chair of the panel looking at higher education for the government's Better Regulation Task Force, she was taking formal evidence this week just as higher education minister Margaret Hodge signed off a "light-touch" quality-assurance regime for universities.

Ms Hodge has reportedly assured the parties in the quality debate, who have spent most of the past decade wrangling over a new university regulation system, that Ms Alderson's report will not substantially alter the drive towards the agreed quality regime.

There had been hopes that the report, due out this summer, could challenge the existence of the Quality Assurance Agency and shake up university regulation. Now many fear that it will be sidelined as all the key issues are tied up.

But in giving evidence this week, the Association of University Teachers, which wants a fundamental review, did all it could to ensure that the report remained hard-hitting. And Ms Alderson is certainly no pushover.

In the ten years to March 2000, she was director-general of the Advertising Standards Authority - a "respected and formidable leader", the ASA said.

She obtained a notable scalp for anti-GM food protesters in 1999 when she upheld complaints against Monsanto over newspaper advertisements for genetically modified food. She said the biotechnology firm had presented its opinions as fact without proper scientific evidence to support them.

Now director of FireHorses Ltd, which specialises in UK and European regulation, Ms Alderson is a member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs's Food Advisory Committee and is on the review body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a fellow of the Communications Advertising and Marketing Foundation.

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