The Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) has been, since its creation in 1964, the most public and explicit organization in the history of British higher education. Responsiveness to policy initiatives at many levels of the educational system has meant consultation and debate, the promotion and defence of what for a quarter of a century was known as 'public sector' higher education. The CNAA became a unique voice for public sector higher education and for developments in higher education more broadly. The complexity of the CNAA and of the processes and events in which it has been involved dictate the choices to be made in approaching its history. With the CNAA, as with other organizations and institutions, there are differently perceived histories, different historical emphases. With the polytechnics, the colleges of higher education, and other validated institutions, the CNAA moved into the new problems of different subjects, subject combinations and interdisciplinary studies.