Les Ebdon, who is stepping down as vice-chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire this summer, will appear before a House of Commons select committee on 2 February to be quizzed on his application for the vacancy.
If he is succesful, Professor Ebdon, who is chair of the Million+ group of post-1992 institutions, will replace Sir Martin Harris as Offa director.
The developments follow a delay in the hunt for a new director after the government extended the search in an apparent bid to find a suitable candidate from outside the sector.
Times Higher Education reported in December that, following interviews for the job, ministers were left with just one name – understood to be David Allen, registrar and deputy chief executive of the University of Exeter – and wanted a more varied pool.
Mr Allen is understood to have withdrawn his candidature before Christmas.
Professor Ebdon has been an outspoken critic of government policy during his time as Million+ chairman, frequently raising concerns about the impact of the tuition fee hike on students from poorer backgrounds.