The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) was established in November 2002, with the aim to ensure as far as possible that higher education policy development in the UK is informed by research and by knowledge of the experience of others. Its role is:
- to identify important policy issues in higher education – both immediate and long-term;
- to identify research and experience relevant to these issues, both in this country and overseas;
- to identify further research needed to illuminate those issues, and to facilitate that research or to or undertake research and policy analysis ourselves; and most importantly
- by publishing reports, by arranging seminars and conferences and by other means, to alert policy makers, as well as those who influence policy and the wider public, to the issues, to current experience and to relevant research
HEPI's key function is to raise issues, stimulate discussion and disseminate research findings. It aims to build a bridge between policy makers and research, primarily through seminars and key contacts, through the publication of reports and through a web presence. HEPI is not only a research body: it does not simply undertake original research itself. It also identifies and synthesizes research carried out by others and analyses experience elsewhere; and it produces reports and other papers based on these, and uses these to inform the policy community and the general public. Nor, in general, does it commission research itself, though it has a small budget which enables it to commission small scale ad hoc studies.
Lord Dearing was HEPI's first Chairman, and was succeeded in January 2005 by Sir Graeme Davies. Bahram Bekhradnia is the first Director. In addition, HEPI has a distinguished advisory board. Other than the Director, the only staff are a director of development and an administrator.
HEPI is a company limited by guarantee, and is a registered charity. Initially it was funded primarily by grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, but it now meets most of its expenditure from other sources.