HEPI was established in 2002 ‘to promote research into and understanding of all aspects of higher education and to disseminate the useful results of such research for the education of policy makers and the general public in the United Kingdom’. As we approach our 18th birthday (in November 2020), we are publishing our Annual Review for 2019/20.
During this period (August 2019 to July 2020), there were significantly more HEPI publications (34) than in any previous year and much more engagement with our work online, including our daily blog (especially after the current COVID-19 crisis began).
Some highlights of the year included:
- the annual HEPI / Advance HE Student Academic Experience Survey;
- a major study of Postgraduate Education in the last decade;
- a report on the PhD student experience, written by a PhD student;
- a review of cross-subsidies from teaching to research;
- a report written by a Classics student on the decline of language learning;
- a collection of essays on UK/China relations and higher education; and
- reports produced in conjunction with HEPI Partners on student accommodation (with UPP), the use of student data (with Tribal) and young people’s aspirations (with Unite Students);
- a more detailed look at graduate employment.
We ran a successful in-person events programme until March 2020, since when our events have moved online (with forthcoming free-to-attend events on access with Chris Millward and modern universities and the pandemic – in conjunction with MillionPlus – where we will hear from Gavin Williamson). Like other organisations, however, we continue to be buffeted by the unprecedented challenges that have hit higher education since March.
HEPI is funded by higher education institutions and other organisations that wish to see a vibrant higher education policy debate shaped by evidence. We are very grateful for this continuing support and always welcome feedback on our work. We hope that publishing this short summary of our work in 2019/20 will prompt comments on what we do well, what we could do better and what we might do differently. If you would like to work more closely with us, please do get in touch via our website.
Given the challenges everyone in higher education faces, our goal for 2020/21 is to become more efficient without losing our impact.
There are lots of serious institutions on the Banbury Road, but few can be doing things that are more important for universities and the sector than HEPI. As a former secondary head, I am bound to say this, but I do think that the more that HEPI can also deal with the interface between school and university, the wider audience and the greater impact it will have. What universities do, in terms of admissions, entry requirements qualifications, courses and accessibility has a massive impact on life in schools. After all, for good or ill, universities created A levels and the exam boards and their reliance on GCSEs and A levels informs everything that schools do. In the same way, if schools do not provide candidates with the right skills or the right subject experience, that can affect what universities can do. Universities also have much to learn from the development in student care and support which has been the biggest chance in the secondary sector in the last ten years. And, of course, HEPI could ask the fundamental question whether what students learn at schools really is the right stuff for university – and life. And then lend its weight to the International Baccalaureate!