Review of Wonkhe’s 3rd year

Wonkhe went live three years ago today, and as we celebrate our 3rd birthday, and in keeping with tradition, I feel that it is another good time to look back at the 12 months just past and also ahead to future plans. You can read last year’s review of year 2 and the year before when I reflected on our first year online.


I continue to be surprised and delighted to hear the site referenced across policy and academic circles. I’m constantly getting feedback about people talking about us – even in some of the darkest and most obscure corners of the sector. We’re popping up on reading lists, being talked about at conferences and referenced in decision-making meetings at the highest levels. However, there’s plenty of scope to grow (more on that later).

As is now customary, below are list of the top ten (identifiable – there are thousands of others on personal networks, mobile phones etc.) domains from which the site was accessed over the past year – and for the first time I’ve added a comparison to last year’s ‘ranking’.

  1. Universities UK (4th – 2012)
  2. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (1st – 2012)
  3. HEFCE (10th – 2012)
  4. The University of Birmingham (8th – 2012)
  5. The Open University (new)
  6. The University of Warwick (5th – 2012)
  7. The University of Durham (new)
  8. Manchester Metropolitan University (9th – 2012)
  9. University of Sheffield (new)
  10. University of Leeds (new)

Honorable mentions go to the University of Oxford (6th – 2012) and NUS (7th – 2012) who narrowly missed out on the top ten. Also this year there was a whole other chunk of traffic coming from some part of the Janet infrastructure, but I’m unable to tell who or where exactly. HEtechnogeeks: get in touch.

The list is interesting to compare to last year – UUK moving up to push BIS off the top spot, OU coming up the ranks from nowhere pushing Warwick down a place, and the sad departure of the University of Glamorgan (1st – 2012) both from our ranking, and of course existence in general.


The five posts receiving the biggest traffic this year were:

  1. UKIP’s Dangerous HE Policies – Tom Bailey 28/01/13
  2. We’re under fifteen feet of pure white snow – David Kernohan 12/03/13
  3. A statement we didn’t expect – Andy Westwood 05/12/13
  4. Review of The Great University Gamble – Nick Hillman 13/05/13
  5. Austerity, the spending review and a crisis in human capital – Andy Westwood 07/05/13

Tom Bailey’s UKIP post was one of those that transcended mere HE interest – with the party surging in the polls, and attracting media attention, their policies have come under increased scrutiny this year and so I am pleased that wonkhe was able to have the definitive answer to the state of the party’s approach to HE – something of great interest to the media and other parts of policy making and politics. Expect a follow-up soon.

It doesn’t surprise me to see David Kernohan’s critique of Pearson’s ‘Avalanche’ report come in second place. The post was timely and captured the moment of most interest in the report over the 24 hours it was published and launched – and as the debate about it raged on Twitter and elsewhere.

Andy Westwood’s early reaction to the Autumn Statement in third place was seminal and very timely and so earned its place near the top.

Nick Hillman’s review of Andrew McGettigan’s ‘Great University Gamble’ was an unusual and fascinating moment for careful observers of HE policy and politics. It is rare for a serving SpAD to break cover and respond in the public domain on matters of policy and I was glad that wonkhe was the forum for this intriguing debate.

Andy Westwood again in fifth place with another seminal post that was heavily shared across social media and referenced in presentations at conferences and who knows where else too – it popped up time and again. A bleak, but important analysis at a crucial moment that shaped the thinking of many.


The email list continues to grow. If you’re not already there, subscribe at the top left of the page and you’ll get an email every time there’s a new blog. You’ll never ever be spammed.

Twitter is doing well as we gradually march towards 10k followers. Many thanks go to Nick Entwistle who has quietly been tweeting from @wonkhe things you might be interested to read over the last few months.

Chrome has finally edged Internet Explorer off the top spot this year to be the most used browser to access the site. I’m pleased because it’s faster and the site looks better in Chrome.

As per usual, there’s a long todo list of fixes and improvements. At the very top is a complete reorganising and reindexing of all content around a move to tags over categories, to make everything easier to find, navigate and reference.

The Future

I am pleased to announce a new initiative to grow the site’s output and build consistency of content through each week, hopefully becoming the daily destination for anyone interested in HE policy and politics. We believe passionately in improving the quality of debate about the sector and we want to provide a platform for some of the new and previously unheard voices. We know you’re out there! To those ends, I have formed a company (wonkhe ltd. number: 08784934 for those interested) and appointed a fantastically talented Board to lead the development of the organisation. They are:

  • Mark Leach, (Chair) Founder and Editor in Chief,
  • Alistair Jarvis, (Deputy Chair) Director of Communications and External Relations, Universities UK
  • Andy Westwood, Chief Executive, GuildHE
  • Carl Lygo, Vice Chancellor, BPP University
  • Vicki Stott, (Treasurer) Bursar, St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford
  • Selena Bolingbroke, Strategic Advisor, Goldsmiths University
  • Claire Callender, Professor of Higher Education Policy, Birkbeck and Institute of Education
  • Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor, Lincoln University

A separate Editorial Group to steer the editorial content of the site will be announced shortly.

We are currently raising the funds needed to deliver a really exciting strategy that will provide many opportunities for both organisations and individuals. If you’d like to know more about that, and find out how you or your organisation might be involved, please do get in touch.

As ever, if you have ideas for blogs by yourself, a colleague or anyone else – drop me a line and I’ll work with you to develop the idea. We’re only ever as good as our writers. Wonks: we need you!

That’s it. Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting our site. Look out for exciting developments coming soon.

Mark Leach – founder and Editor in Chief

3 thoughts on “Review of Wonkhe’s 3rd year”

  1. Mark Leach says:

    I’ll need to chat to the person that runs the network, but just realised the UUK domain visit stat will probably include everything in Woburn House – i.e. GuildHE, International Unit, Jisc, Council of Deans etc.

  2. dkernohan says:

    There’s no Jisc in Woburn house…. unless we get invited of course (which we love to be, as UUK has the best catering of any major UK HE body).

    1. Mark Leach says:

      Oh, well the Jisc logo is displayed in reception…

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