Many universities offer programmes in addition to core curricula to enable students to acquire additional skills and to help them stand out in the employment market place. But what if there were such a course for ‘wonk skills’?
I spent six years working at UEA, home of the HE three letter acronym and have always had a fondness for them, the more pointless and obscure the better. So, what better way to mark the peak Higher Ed conference season than with a pointless quiz on HE acronyms. Some of these are relatively well known and others are more obscure so see how many you can get.
David Kernohan responds to respected policy wonk Sonia Sodha’s latest piece for The Guardian: ‘It’s time to reinvent what universities can be’.
There is clearly no shortage of talented and opinionated women working in or engaged with higher education. But with women in the minority of contributors to Wonkhe, Debbie McVitty looks at why that might be, the barriers to writing that might exist, and gives some tips on how to overcome them.
Vice Chancellors are increasingly looking towards professional policy advisers to help them navigate the changing higher education landscape and implement reform within their own institution. Richard Brabner is conducting some new research in to this emerging profession for the Leadership Foundation, and needs the assistance of wonks across the UK in responding to a survey to better understand these roles.
As UK universities gird themselves for publication of the first Research Excellence Framework results, Stevie Upton reflects on the difference between US and UK approaches to policy making and thinking and how academics write for policy makers – with lessons to learn for wonks on both sides of the Atlantic.
Four years ago we introduced Wonkhe to the higher education sector. We’ve grown steadily since, but today marks our first major leap forward. You’re reading this on the first version of our new platform that kicks off a period of substantial growth of this site and everything that our organisation does.
Wonkhe’s Director Mark Leach introduces the new site, brand and trails some of the developments that are on the horizon.
The question ‘what is a wonk?’ has come up many times since Wonkhe was launched three years ago. But in three years, understanding has come a long way. As the higher education sector in the UK has accepted if not embraced the term, there is still some clarification to be done. In this piece, Mark Leach looks at who the HE wonks are and draws lessons from other countries and other sectors.
A policy-maker is a writer of fiction. And as writers of fiction we use the same narrative techniques and tropes as novelists, poets and film makers. Because what else can we do? The fiction industry – the multi-billion dollar superstructure that exists to entertain and divert us – sets the bar so high.
The mess, the chaos and the arbitrariness of reality will never measure up to the best that the industry can offer. Therefore – we edit; we prune and we cultivate. We collect the shards of experience that suit our purpose, we downplay those that do not.
This week I have decided to have a pop at the practice of asking students about their motivations for study in student experience surveys. It is not a particularly topical issue – but then, if we waited for some aspects of higher education policy to appear in the news cycle before talking about them we would be waiting a long time. This post is a reflection on the question of student motivation, how and why we measure it and what that says about us.
In higher education, policy bubbles are commonplace. They float around the sector drawing disproportionate levels of interest and as they grow, they become less rooted in evidence, research or coherent thought. It is important to understand these bubbles if we are to improve policy-making in higher education, a project that has never been more important.
Imagine, fellow wonks, if you will, your vice chancellor or chief executive coming to you one day to be briefed on the latest impenetrable funding council communiqué. Deciding what your institution’s or organisation’s opinion should be will involve speaking with experts and respected colleagues, reviewing research, thinking about how the media might tell the story and second-guessing your competitors. It probably includes waving a finger in the air to test which way the political winds are blowing.
It almost certainly does not involve handing the decision over to a thousand-strong student rabble with a three-day hangover. Who know significantly less than you do about any given policy issue in higher education. For a body of professionals hired and valued for our expert knowledge base, NUS National Conference must surely seem to wonks to be the worst idea ever concocted.