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What were people reading about higher education in 2022?

  • 30 December 2022
  • By Nick Hillman

Below is our annual round up of the most popular HEPI blogs from the past year.

She may only blog for us occasionally, but HEPI Trustee Mary Curnock Cook bags the top spot – and not for the first time.

She got to number 16 in 2021, reached number 9 in 2020 and was last top of the tree in 2019.

Mary’s latest number 1 was on the role of the Russell Group. Her piece split opinion but generated a lively debate, which is of course HEPI’s purpose as the UK’s only dedicated higher education think tank.

Mary also has an entry this year at number 16, with a counter-intuitive piece on minimum entry requirements for higher education. This is an issue on which we are still waiting for the Government to opine after their consultation launched in February 2022 (on the back of the Augar report, which itself dates back to May 2019).

Other issues that scored strong engagement in 2022 were

  • social mobility, with a blog on the topic by the vice-chancellor Dave Phoenix sitting at number 2;
  • the Research Excellence Framework, the results of which were published on 12 May 2022;
  • the annual undergraduate admissions round;
  • the Government’s much-delayed response to the Augar report;
  • Plan B / Horizon Europe, which is another area where we are still waiting for clarity; and
  • student accommodation.

The list of top blogs below only covers HEPI’s blogs published in 2022; it does not cover HEPI’s reports. If it did also include HEPI reports published during 2022, then:

The fourth placed report is Defining Quality by QAA Chief Executive Vicki Stott, which marked the QAA’s 25 anniversary and is perhaps worth a special mention as quality will be high on the agenda in 2023: the QAA announced in July 2022 that it will no longer agree to be the Designated Quality Body in England after March 2023.

The top-of-the-blogs list also excludes blogs that were first published before 2022 but which still score thousands of hits each year. If they were included, the top golden oldies to appear would be ‘Mind the gap: gender differences in higher education’ by Rachel Hewitt (first published in March 2020), ‘The employment of PhD graduates in the UK: what do we know?’ by Sally Hancock (from February 2020) and ‘Should students be free to register with different doctors for home and away?’ by Dr Dominique Thompson, which still scores tonnes of hits despite being over five years old, having been first published in March 2017.

This all proves that some blogs have impact long after they are first published, so it is worth remembering that blogs which are relatively recent but still appear in the top 20 have also done particularly well – a blog published in January or February of 2022 has had far longer to score hits than a blog published in November or December.

Hits are not necessarily any better a measure of quality than graduate salaries … but if you think you can contribute a HEPI blog that might garner a good level of interest, do get in touch.

Finally, in late December we said goodbye to our colleague Dr Laura Brassington, who ran the HEPI blog for most of 2022. Thanks to her good work, the HEPI website scored a record number of hits. We had expected the sharp increase in engagement that occurred during COVID – when people were in front of their screens for longer – to subside but, in reality, the number of hits continued to grow in 2022 to reach its highest-ever level for any calendar year. (We will be looking to recruit a new Policy Manager in Laura’s place early in 2023, so – if you have an interest in running the HEPI blog and getting involved in all the other activities we do – feel free to get in touch.)

Top of the blogs

  1. It’s time to talk about the Russell Group, 20 August 2022, by Mary Curnock Cook
  2. English Social Mobility Index for 2022, 24 March 2022, by David Phoenix
  3. REF 2028? Think Again, 10 May 2022, by Peter Mandler
  4. Five things on my mind for Confirmation and Clearing 2022, 15 June 2022, by Clare Marchant
  5. How to read today’s expected announcements on higher education from the Westminster Government: 10 points of note, 24 February 2022, by Nick Hillman
  6. No agreement on the Horizon − a no-win situation for the UK, the EU and European research, 7 April 2022 by Marco Cavallaro
  7. In the years of waiting for a full response, it’s become clear the Augar review is a smörgåsbord not a prix fixe. But while policymakers have been deliberating, universities have been delivering, 1 February 2022, by Nick Hillman
  8. Humanising the international student experience: the post-study reality of gaining UK employment, 20 June 2022, by Helen Atkinson, Gemma Green and Jim Campbell
  9. REF-EREE! Looking ahead to a big week for higher education and research, which will reveal if the UK is as good at research as we hope, 7 May 2022, by Nick Hillman
  10. What might 250,000 to 350,000 Hongkongers coming to the UK mean for the higher education sector?, 23 March 2022, by Michael Natzler
  11. Five common predictions about COVID and education that now appear to be wrong, 18 January 2022, by Nick Hillman
  12. 10 ‘killer facts’ about higher education finance, 7 June 2022, by Nick Hillman
  13. Universities can’t afford to make the same admissions mistakes with T Levels as they have with the BTEC, 11 January 2022, by Alex Blower
  14. The state of university admissions in 2022, 14 June 2022, by Nick Hillman
  15. 2022 HEPI Soft-Power Index: UK slips further behind the US for the fifth year running, 22 August 2022, by Nick Hillman
  16. GCSE Thresholds for Eligibility for Student Loans Could Transform Access and Participation, 24 February 2022, by Mary Curnock Cook
  17. Why there should be no surprises about the growing student housing shortage, 11 November 2022, by Martin Blakey
  18. We’ve reached a tipping point on apprenticeships, 7 February 2022, by John Cope
  19. Where London students will live in the next decade (and why the London Plan is failing them), 18 July 2022, by David Tymms
  20. Tales from REF Central: Reflections from REF results week, 26 May 2022, by Elizabeth Gadd

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