The Office for Students has announced that its director of regulation, Susan Lapworth, will serve as interim chief executive from May.
Ms Lapworth’s current boss, Nicola Dandridge, will leave the regulator for higher education in England in April.
The interim appointment will last until the end of the year, “ahead of a recruitment process for a permanent chief executive conducted by the Department for Education”, the OfS said.
James Wharton, chair of the OfS and Conservative peer, said: “This is an excellent appointment to see the OfS through an important phase of our work, including the delivery of our reforms to quality and student outcomes.
“Susan has worked closely with the board since the OfS was established and is perfectly placed to lead the team through this period. Her experience and expertise have been invaluable to the OfS, and I am looking forward to working closely with her in this new role.”
Lapworth has worked for the OfS throughout its four-year existence, having moved from its antecedent organisation, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce).
The appointment of Lord Wharton sparked controversy. Opposition politicians called for the withdrawal of his nomination. The commissioner for public appointments, Peter Riddell, criticised the government for “packing” the panel to oversee the appointment of the next chair of the Office for Students with political allies of the Conservative party. Several vice-chancellors expressed doubts over the political impartiality of the Conservative peer to an ostensibly independent regulator. Labour demanded an investigation into the appointment.