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June 25, 1999

The tag "poacher turned gamekeeper" has dogged Diana Warwick ever since she became chief executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals just three years after quitting as general secretary of the Association of University Teachers.

She is unlikely to duck the description by joining the government benches in the Lords after months spent calling for more public spending on higher education.

Wearing more than one hat has got her into trouble before. Eyebrows were raised about her combining her CVCP role with membership of the Nolan Committee on standards in public life, particularly when the committee looked into universities.

But her appointment to the CVCP in September 1995 was widely welcomed. Most involved in higher education hoped her strong character would attract more attention, and cash, to the university sector.

She was hailed as "a solid performer on the public stage" and made clear that her aim was to make the CVCP "a force to be reckoned with". Even David Triesman, who succeeded her at the AUT, described her appointment as "showing tremendous vision".

Now 53, she was educated at St Joseph's College, Bradford, and Bedford College, University of London, where she was president of the students' union.

She began her career at the National Union of Teachers, then worked alongside John Randall at the Civil and Public Services Association before moving to the AUT, which she left in 1992 to become chief executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.She remains a member of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Industrial Society and chairwoman of Voluntary Service Overseas.

She has proved adept at handling the predominantly male membership of the CVCP and stresses the importance of improving the role of women in the sector without wanting to indulge in gender politics.

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