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The UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education.


The HEPI Blog aims to make brief, incisive contributions to the higher education policy landscape. It is circulated to our subscribers and published online. We welcome guest submissions, which should follow our Instructions for Blog Authors. Submissions should be sent to our Blog Editor, Josh Freeman, at [email protected].

  • Ukip on international students

    18 October 2014 by Nick Hillman

    As I have written on here before, I am asked surprisingly often what Ukip’s higher education policies are. Those working in universities in areas where there is a substantial Ukip presence and / or elected Ukip councillors are especially keen to know. I never have a very good answer. But, earlier this…

  • Why are politicians so keen on open access?

    3 October 2014 by Nick Hillman

    People sometimes speculate on why policymakers, including elected politicians, are so keen on open access (i.e. giving people free access to the output of researchers – especially taxpayer-funded research), which has made enormous strides in recent years. It may seem obvious to some readers of this blog, although there are various different potential reasons, such as a desire…

  • How will the ending of student number controls affect higher vocational education?

    22 September 2014 by Nick Hillman

    HEPI’s most recent blue book, A guide to the removal of student number controls, secured extensive interest (and media coverage) last week. It seeks to bring together what we know about the policy, and also highlights some of the issues that still need to be resolved. I am taking this opportunity to post another piece on…

  • When 30,000 = 15,000 and 60,000 = 45,000

    10 September 2014

    Greg Clark, the new Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, has just delivered his first major speech on higher education to the Universities UK Annual Conference at Leeds University. It was a full account of recent successes by the sector and a defence of recent higher education reforms. It did…

  • Thoughts on ‘Robbins Rebooted’ by Liam Byrne

    28 August 2014 by Nick Hillman

    When John Denham delivered his speech on higher education to the RSA in January 2014, we described it as ‘the most interesting set of ideas on higher education from any Labour politician since the last election.’ That accolade must now be shifted to the new pamphlet, Robbins Rebooted, by Liam…

  • A-Level results day – a few thoughts on what to look out for

    14 August 2014

    Good luck to everyone getting their A-Level results today – and, remember, if you haven’t got the results you hoped for, there is lots of information available and there are other opportunities out there. This is a big year in terms of university entrance because the Government is starting to roll…

  • Why universities should not buy their loan books – Guest Blog by Alasdair Smith

    5 August 2014

    David Willetts’s recent suggestion that universities might buy the loan books of their own students has generated some ill-considered reaction, so Nick Hillman’s comments are valuable. Nick points out first that there is no necessary link with any selective increase in the fees cap. And, given that much of the…

  • Selling student loans to universities: what’s been missed?

    4 August 2014 by Nick Hillman

    I’ve resisted the temptation to say much about the proposal to sell off parts of the student loan book to universities so that they come to own their former students’ debts. The story was covered extensively by Newsnight last week and in the newspapers afterwards, including in a piece published in…

  • Today is the 70th anniversary of an important fair access report

    26 July 2014

    On Wednesday, 26th July 1944, the Board of Education published The public schools and the general education system by the Committee on Public Schools, which is known as the Fleming Report. The terms of reference for the committee were: To consider means whereby the association between the Public Schools (by which term is meant…

  • 2015/16 Access Agreements by Les Ebdon, the Director of Fair Access

    24 July 2014

    Today the Office for Fair Access announced its decisions on access agreements for 2015-16 – the second set of agreements that we’ve negotiated under my directorship. The most striking development in these new agreements is the smarter way in which universities and colleges are planning to spend their access money.…