Roger McClure will become chief executive of the newly-named Learning and Skills Improvement Service, after the organisation's first choice, Warwickshire College principal Ioan Morgan, backed out of the pound;150,000 job in March.
LSIS replaces the Quality Improvement Agency and the Centre for Excellence and Leadership, and is intended to give colleges and training providers more of a say in how FE should be improved. Its board has strong representation from colleges with seven out of 12 members being current principals, as well as Wally Brown, the Liverpool Community College principal who is stepping down in August.
The remainder of the board come from organisations ranging from local authorities, exam boards such as City and Guilds and private companies involved in education.
With colleges hoping that greater influence over LSIS will help them to gain the same control over their affairs as universities enjoy, the new chief executive is someone with experience of both further and higher education.
Mr McClure headed the Scottish Funding Council for six years before taking early retirement. His departure from that post was believed to have been hastened by the arrival of John McClelland, the hands-on businessman who helped run Rangers Football Club and IBM, as council chairman.
Earlier in his career, he was director of finance at the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council and was involved in establishing the funding methodology for its successor, the Further Education Funding Council.
The remit of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service is to drive forward the continuing improvement of England's college system "by supporting strategic reform and taking leadership and improvement in the sector forward in a radically different way".