Offa overhaul is off the agenda

January 20, 2006

News that John Rushforth is to leave the Office for Fair Access to follow Sir Howard Newby, outgoing chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, to the University of the West of England immediately caused some excited Chinese whispering on the policy grapevine. Was Mr Rushforth jumping from the not-so-good ship Offa before it sunk without trace?

Never mind that, the more determined conspiracy theorists were certain that Offa's director, Sir Martin Harris, would soon be rushing off to run Hefce, taking the Offa brief with him - after all, everyone knows that Hefce has always seen the regulator as the cuckoo trying to take over its nest. But sources close to Offa firmly quashed this rumour, pointing out that it would take primary legislation to change the organisation.

And with that tricky education White Paper looming, not to mention the media whipping itself into a frenzy over the troubles of Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, something tells us that might not be a priority.

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