Review of Wonkhe year 1

Meta blogging about blogging can be dull and I’ve sought to limit these sorts of posts to focus on what people really want to read. But today is our first birthday which offers a good opportunity for a little reflection on the year just gone.

Wonkhe launched on 31st January 2011 but not many people know its roots lie in a little-read and now defunct blog I started in 2006 called Marksed. I was Education Officer at the University of Kent Students’ Union at the time, and from a look at the archives, didn’t have much insight to share. Virtually nobody read it, but as you can see from the masthead, my Adobe Illustrator skills haven’t moved on much in 6 years. I can only hope that my thinking about higher education policy has improved at a faster rate.

Marksed masthead,, 2006


I have been frequently overwhelmed by the positive comments about Wonkhe that I receive, both online and off. I could see from the hits at the start that it was getting read, but it wasn’t until I started meeting people in the real world that were eager to offer their views about something they read on the blog, that I realised its potential reach. A look at the logs show that it is being read in virtually every higher education institution’s network, along with BIS, Parliament, media outlets and countless well known think-tanks and public sector bodies. Here are the top 10 networks (of those we can readily identify) from which Wonkhe is read:

  1. Oxford University
  2. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
  3. Higher Education Funding Council of England
  4. Imperial College
  5. University of East London
  6. University of Hertfordshire
  7. University of Cambridge
  8. University of Manchester
  9. Houses of Parliament
  10. University of Leicester


Wonkhe depends on contributions from all the clever people out there that have thoughts about some aspect of higher education policy. I was clear from the start that it was never enough for it to be just my work, which mostly focuses on the interface of politics and policy in HE. It had to be wider than that, and I have been delighted that 18 other people have contributed with some really outstanding posts.

When I ask people what they would change about Wonkhe, they consistently say that they would like more posts. Well I promise to do my best, but I’ll never publish something for the sake of it and if I can’t get something up that isn’t reasonably well written and accurate, I won’t. I’m just one person with a full time job, a part-time doctorate and plenty of other responsibilities besides. If you want to see something that isn’t here, why not give it a stab yourself? I am always open to contributions; so if you’d like to write something, please do get in touch and help grow our community further.

Here is a list of the top ranking posts on Wonkhe so far, measured by individual page views from publication until 30th January 2012.

  1. HE Bill to be dropped? – Mark Leach, 24/01/12
  2. Imperial College surprises all with £0 tuition fees (April fools) – Mark Leach, 01/04/11
  3. The winning move is not to play: Game Theory and the Willetts funding model – David Kernohan 25/02/11
  4. Fear the future campus wars – Mark Leach 24/08/11
  5. Studying popular culture – Will Brooker, 09/01/12
  6. HE White Paper: a reckless gamble with university education – Andrew McGettigan, 12/07/12
  7. Why ‘students as customers’ is bad for policymaking – Debbie McVitty, 06/12/11
  8. Taking it to the limit – Mark Leach, 14/06/11

The fact that the most read post in our history was only last week indicates how we are continuing to grow all the time. With no shortage of HE policy issues on the horizon, I hope we can continue to develop as a destination for HE wonks and the multitude of other people that have an interest in this area. If you Google terms like ‘core and margin’ and ‘higher education white paper’, Wonkhe consistently comes out highly in the ranking. With ever-increasing public interest in HE and the Government’s reforms, more and more people are finding us in this way. The bulk of the rest of the traffic comes from Twitter, Facebook and other blogs that have generously linked to Wonkhe posts.

I am delighted with the first year of Wonkhe and I hope we’ve built a solid foundation to take us on to bigger and better things in the future. I have lots of ideas in development that will hopefully bear fruit this year, and I have a long to-do list of technical and design fixes and enhancements to make. I hope you enjoy the next 12 months of Wonkhe.

Mark Leach

Founding editor, 31st January 2012

p.s. For the avoidance of doubt, Wonkhe is pronounced ‘wonky’. I hear lots of people say ‘wonk, he’, but that is incorrect and sounds weird. Wonkhe sounds like wonky!

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