Before taking over as Director of Hepi earlier this year, I was on the receiving end of much lobbying as an adviser on higher education in Whitehall. ‘Lobbying’ is a dirty word but, done well, it can mean telling people in power things they don’t already know.
That serves a useful purpose. Sometimes, however, lobbying goes no further than criticising current policy. When that happened to me, I would respond by asking people what they would do instead. But I would set two conditions on the answer: to accept that we live in a democracy; and to recognise no administration has unlimited funds. That test differentiated those who simply wanted to get things off their chests from those with workable alternatives.
Hepi aims to be in the second camp. Our goal is to help shape the higher education debate with evidence and research, and to suggest practical alternatives wherever possible. We are non-partisan, so can follow the evidence wherever it takes us.
In the past, people in higher education institutions have not always had a sufficiently easy route to comment on our work, to propose alternative ideas or to suggest new avenues of research. Our new website, and this new Debate section in particular, are designed to make it much easier for people to engage with us.
I hope you will do so.