The Conservative Party launched its own review of higher education this week, to run in parallel with that of the Government.
A manifesto group of vice chancellors, academics and business leaders, chaired by Sir Jeremy Elwes, chairman of the St Helier National Health Service Trust and personnel director of Reed Business Publishing, held its first meeting on Monday.
With the blessing of Tim Boswell, further and higher education minister, who was also at the meeting, the group set itself a programme of work for a wide-ranging review of the sector.
It will be inviting submissions from organisations and leading figures with an interest in the future of the sector, and plans to produce a report - which may be published, and could be taken into account by the Department for Education's review - by the end of May.
The group is one of five set up by the Conservative Political Centre, under instructions from its director, Alistair Cooke, to look at policy areas where changes could be made. Other areas include Europe, law and order, devolution and rural policy.
Laing Barden, vice chancellor of the University of Northumbria and a group member, said higher education was a key sector for review because its future had become a "crucial political issue".
"We know that Labour and the Liberal Democrats are working on their own consultation exercises , so it should be no surprise that the Conservatives doing the same. But I think they will want to see what comes out before deciding whether to make the final report public."
Jeremy Howard, the CPC researcher who set the review in motion, said: "Higher education is vital to the future success of the country. We hope this exercise will develop policies to continue the success the Conservative Party has had in this area."