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TOP OF THE BLOGS 2020: What a year!

  • 23 December 2020
  • By Michael Natzler

Phew. Time to take a breather. 2020 has been a rollercoaster and this blog marks our last of the year.

In January, perhaps we were tempting fate when we answered ‘How accurate were predictions for higher education in 2020?’ Little did we know that the Valentine’s Day reshuffle (bringing in Michelle Donelan and Amanda Solloway) in February and the March Budget might pale in significance to the arrival of the Coronavirus and the start of the UK’s first lockdown.

Throughout April and May, we were all swept up in the struggles and challenges of lockdown: from adapting to online learning and teaching to sleepless nights over the financial stability of the sector and the balancing act between universities, the Office for Students and Government that ensued; in the moment of madness when student number caps almost made an unwelcome return; and in the uncertainty of the movements of international students for the 2020/21 academic year.  

In June and July, as the undergraduate academic year wrapped up with the arrival of better-than-expected measures of the student experience in the form of the HEPI / Advance HE 2020 Student Academic Experience Survey, there was time to turn our minds to postgraduate education, back to Brexit and to making progress in addressing institutional racism following the #BlackLivesMatter protests, from racial inequality to decolonising the curriculum.

Another crisis arrived in August, this time around the A-Level algorithm. You’ll see in the ‘Top 25 blogs of 2020’ list below that this was one of the most widely read topics – and that the risks associated with the Ofqual system were being discussed on the HEPI long before the summer.

With more experience from local lockdowns to summer courses and with much of the summer to prepare for the start of the 2020/21 academic year, students began to return to campus in September and October. Discussions about accommodation and students’ expectations ensued.

November and December saw a report outlining the extent of the Graduate gender pay gap. November may have felt a little empty for many without the long-anticipated COP26 in Glasgow, but we published our first ever report on climate change and higher education. For students who were returning home, the return was mostly smooth and we revealed that students cannot be accused of being super-spreaders’.

I wonder what next year holds in store.    

Below are the most read blogs of 2020 (including a small number published in earlier years which continued to receive heavy traffic). We’ve got a few lined up already to launch us into 2021. If you fancy writing one, just drop me an email and I’ll be in touch with more details: [email protected]. If you are not yet receiving the blogs straight to your inbox each morning, sign up in the box below.    

  1. A-Levels 2020: what students and parents need to know by Rob Cuthbert, 10 August 2020
  2. Two and a half cheers for Ofqual’s ‘standardisation model’ for GCSE, AS and A level grades – so long as schools comply by Dennis Sherwood, 18 May 2020
  3. A word from UCAS: Five things on the minds of universities as we approach Confirmation and Clearing 2020 by Ben Jordan, 7 August 2020
  4. SUNDAY READING: Ofqual’s Summer Symposium, Slide 12: Examiner’s Report by Dennis Sherwood, 26 July 2020   
  5. What fees will EU students end up paying next year? by David Hawkins, 10 April 2020
  6. Eight interventions for mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on higher education by Chris Husbands and Natalie Day, 30 March 2020
  7. Universities will be changed forever by the Coronavirus crisis – and its aftermath by Anthony Seldon, 23 March 2020
  8. The Great CAG Car Crash – What Went Wrong? by Dennis Sherwood, 12 August 2020
  9. English is now a Modern Foreign Language for boys; Physics is a foreign language for girls too: Grades aside, what do this year’s A level entry trends tell us? by Mary Curnock Cook 1 September 2020
  10. Online learning: Are we asking the right questions? by Rachel Ambler, Gervas Huxley and Mike Peacey, 13 May 2020
  11. Students: What are the polls saying about the next academic year? by Nick Hillman, 9 June 2020
  12. The Future of Higher Education After COVID by Nick Hillman, 16 October 2020
  13. CAGs rule OK by Dennis Sherwood, 18 August 2020
  14. We must not forget the impact of Covid-19 on postgraduate study in 2020/21 by Michelle Morgan, 6 April 2020
  15. Are degree standards the same at all universities? by Andrew Hindmarsh, 2 July 2018
  16. #RESHUFFLE – The 10 crucial things any new Minister for Universities needs to know by Diana Beech, 13 February 2020
  17. The Future of Higher Education and the Implications for Students by Nick Hillman, 11 February 2020
  18. Another perfect storm? The likely financial impact of Covid-19 on the higher education sector by Andrew Connors, 12 April 2020
  19. Where and what did the new Cabinet study? by Hugo Dale-Harris, 26 July 2019
  20. PhDs and value: why we need to re-think the ‘leaky pipeline’ by Bethan Cornell, 30 July 2020
  21. 1 school exam grade in 4 is wrong. Does this matter? by Dennis Sherwood, 15 January 2019
  22. International recruitment staff know about the challenges of student recruitment during difficult times by Vincenzo Raimo and Janet Ilieva, 18 March 2020  
  23. Why the new student number cap is unworkable by Bahram Bekhradnia, 5 May 2020
  24. Redefining the employability agenda in the age of Covid-19 by Tristram Hooley, 11 April 2020
  25. What might Covid-19 mean for PhD students & postdocs? by Bethan Cornell, 16 March 2020

Everyone at HEPI wishes you all a safe and restful Christmas and best for the New Year!

And if you fancy joining HEPI, we currently have a vacancy for the Partnerships and Fundraising Manager role. Click here to read more about the role.

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