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Industry university deadline

Ministers have given an advisory group headed by David Brown, chairman of electronics giant Motorola, three months to draft a blueprint of the University for Industry, writes Ian Nash.

Baroness Blackstone, education and employment minister in the Lords, announced the 13-member group this week and asked the Institute for Public Policy Research to produce an initial model for them to work on.

The UFI was one of Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-election "big ideas", based on schemes devised by the IPPR, a centre-left think tank then headed by Lady Blackstone.

In his Budget, he gave Pounds 5 million start-up cash to stimulate demand from employers, in the hope of doing for industry what the Open University did for higher education.

David Brown's appointment will be seen as a controversial move since his company has been highly critical of traditional HE.

Like many large companies, Motorola has its own "university" for company staff. But David Brown shares the Chancellor's concern over the failure of public and private initiatives to reach small and medium-sized companies.

His group is expected to work closely with Professor Bob Fryer's advisory group on lifelong learning, which is expected to shape the White Paper to be launched this autumn.

Lady Blackstone said: "The University for Industry will revolutionise the way we learn. It will open up new opportunities for everyone to improve their skills and realise their potential."

Members of the group are: Matthew Evans, chair of the Library and Information Commission; John Gray, principal of Newark and Sherwood College; Sir Geoffrey Holland, vice-chancellor of Exeter University; Chris Humphries, chief executive of the Training and Enterprise Councils' national council; Lesley James, a director of Tesco; Diana Laurillard, Open University pro-vice-chancellor; John Lloyd, education officer, AEEU; Margaret Salmon, BBC personnel director; Cob Stenman, chairman of Argo Wiggins; and Wilf Stevenson, British Film Insitute director.

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