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What were people reading in 2021?

  • 31 December 2021
  • By Nick Hillman

Here, on the last day of a year that many people will be pleased to see the back of, is our Top 40 most popular HEPI website pages of 2021. (The list is restricted to blogs and news stories so excludes, for example, our ever-changing home page.)

I am struck by the diversity of topics that did well, though some issues do come up more than once (such as the USS, equality issues and international students). Last year’s top 10 was less diverse, being dominated by pieces on the summer 2020 results row.

It may seem intriguing that some of the top-performing posts (including 12 of the top 20) predate 2021 but, remember, anything posted online before 1 January 2021 has had a whole year to accrue hits while something posted in November or December, say, will have had only a few weeks or just days to do so.

It is invidious to pick out any individual blogs as the list is designed to speak for itself … but if you only have time to read one of these, I would make it the one at Number 19 by Naimatullah Zafary and Ruth Arnold on the horrors faced by Afghans during 2021 when seeking to better themselves by accessing higher education.

  1. Mind the gap: gender differences in higher education by Rachel Hewitt, 7 March 2020
  2. The employment of PhD graduates in the UK: what do we know? by Sally Hancock, 17 February 2020
  3. An English Social Mobility Index: new report proposes a ranking of universities’ impact on social mobility by Dave Phoenix, 4 March 2021
  4. The Future of Higher Education After COVID by Nick Hillman, 16 October 2020
  5. The biggest problem facing UK universities? The lack of ‘friends beyond their borders’ by Nick Hillman, 2 February 2021
  6. Should students be free to register with different doctors for home and away? by Dr Dominique Thompson, 27 March 2017
  7. Where and what did the new Cabinet study? by Hugo Dale-Harris, 26 July 2019
  8. International students are worth £28.8 billion to the UK by Nick Hillman, 9 September 2021
  9. Are degree standards the same at all universities? by Andrew Hindmarsh, 2 July 2018
  10. A-Levels 2020: what students and parents need to know by Rob Cuthbert by 10 August 2020
  11. Hong Kong University students’ online learning experiences under the Covid-19 pandemic by Weiyan Xiong, Jin Jiang and Ka Ho Mok,  3 August 2020
  12. New report shows 67% of PhD students want a career in academic research but only 30% stay in academia three years on by Bethan Cornell, 16 July 2020
  13. Why the pandemic is likely to produce a shift in academics’ pension arrangements by Nick Hillman, 24 November 2020
  14. University pensions: ‘If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.’ PART I: THE UNDERLYING CHALLENGE by Nick Hillman, 9 February 2021
  15. Online learning: Are we asking the right questions? by Rachel Ambler, Gervas Huxley and Mike Peacey, 13 May 2020
  16. White under-achievement in education by Mary Curnock Cook, 2 November 2020
  17. University pensions: ‘If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.’ PART II: WHY IT IS SO HARD TO DELIVER CHANGE by Nick Hillman, 10 February 2021
  18. Major policy issues facing higher education: a plea for nuance by Nick Hillman, 2 March 2021
  19. Reflections of an Afghan Chevening Scholar by Naimatullah Zafary and Ruth Arnold, 20 September 2021
  20. New report warns that an excessive focus on university drop-out rates conflicts with other important priorities by Nick Hillman, 7 January 2021
  21. Mixed Media: What Universities Need to Know About Journalism by Rosemary Bennett, 18 February 2021
  22. Students highlight the challenges of their 2021 academic experience by Alison Johns and Nick Hillman, 24 June 2021
  23. Closing the attainment gap: how disadvantaged pupils have been impacted by OVID-19 by Gwen Morris 4 February 2021
  24. People want free speech to thrive at universities … just not for racists, Holocaust deniers or advocates of religious violence by Richard Brabner, 17 May 2021
  25. Five questions to ask about the Turing scheme by David Carter, 11 January 2021
  26. International students need more relevant careers support if UK is to remain a destination of choice by Nick Hillman, 14 October 2021
  27. Reducing the student loan repayment threshold to under £20,000 would save £3.8 billion and lower student loan write-off costs in England from over one-half (54%) to one-third (33%) by Nick Hillman, 10 June 2021
  28. Most students think passing a sexual consent test should be compulsory before starting higher education by Nick Hillman, 29 April 2021
  29. New HEPI report demonstrates that moving away from the use of predicted grades in university admissions could harm, rather than benefit, fair admissions by Rachel Hewitt, 18 March 2021
  30. Improving the fortunes of the humanities means thinking about post-16 qualifications by Gabriel Roberts, 23 September 2021
  31. The Student Academic Experience Survey 2021 by Jonathan Neves and Rachel Hewitt, 24 June 2021
  32. What does ‘Levelling Up’ R&D look like? by Andy Westwood, 19 May 2021
  33. Making the case for the London Weighting by Diana Beech, 28 January 2021
  34. UK research funding less geographically concentrated than key competitors including US and Germany by Sarah Chaytor, Grace Gottlieb and Graeme Reid, 13 May 2021
  35. New report urges universities to have zero carbon emissions by 2035 and to rethink knowledge and teaching practices for the era of climate change by Keri Facer, 10 December 2020
  36. New HEPI report reveals over 350,000 more higher education places will be needed in England by 2035 to keep up with demand, while Scotland will see a decline in demand for places over the same period, despite increased participation in higher education by Rachel Hewitt, 22 October 2020
  37. The USS Trustee’s governance crisis by Neil Davies, 6 April 2021
  38. New report calls for the decolonisation of universities in order address a ‘silent crisis’ by Mia Liyanage, 23 July 2020
  39. ‘Systemic bias against boys’? Unexplained differences in Teacher Assessed Grades between boys and girls in this year’s A level results by Mary Curnock Cook, 23 August 2021
  40. The case for putting foundation years on more stable ground by Chris Husbands 20 May 2021

1 comment

  1. Naimat Zafary says:

    Thank you so much Nick for recommending our blogs. This means a lot to me!


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