Colin Campbell's outspokenness about top-up fees does not come out of the blue. Only six months ago he said it was time to privatise Britain's universities "to help them be globally competitive".
In 1998 he wrote to education secretary David Blunkett warning that the new teaching and higher education bill and its rejection of top-up fees could damage the standing of higher education around the world.
Students have long regarded him as the spearhead of the pro-top-up-fee lobby and he is not one to shrink from a high profile. In Northern Ireland, he was a member of the standing advisory commission on human rights and the mental health legislation review committee.
In 1987-88, he was a member of the University Grants Committee - at about the same time as he became vice-chancellor at Nottingham - served as vice-chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals and is a former member of the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. More recently, he has been chairman of the Food Advisory Committee and chair of the Human Genetics Advisory Commission.
Educated at Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen and the University of Aberdeen, where he graduated with first-class honours in law, he began his career as a lecturer in law at the University of Dundee. He was appointed professor of jurisprudence at Queen's University, Belfast, and became
pro vice-chancellor before leaving for Nottingham.
At times controversial - about 50 academic staff at Nottingham were threatened with redundancy in 1997 in an effort to boost research ratings - he has been accused of driving his colleagues too hard.But he is also praised for establishing Nottingham as a key Russell Group player.
He was knighted in 1994; he is a Companion of the Institute of Management.