Write for Wonkhe

Our guide to writing for Wonkhe.

News, analysis and explanation of higher education issues from our leading team of wonks

At Wonkhe we’re all about opening up the higher education policy debate – we provide a platform both for established experts and, especially, new and previously unheard voices and perspectives.

Your original ideas and analysis help drive forward the higher education debate for the benefit of the Wonkhe community. Many people ask how to write a piece for us, so here’s our advice.

The author

We want to hear from anyone with an interesting story to tell, no matter who they are. We enjoy lifting the lid on areas of the UK higher education sector that are seldom discussed – you don’t need to be enmeshed in politics to contribute. We’ve published blogs from students, academics, administrators, professional services and from people in FE colleges, brand new institutions, very old institutions, sector agencies and those outside the sector entirely.

We prefer personal rather than corporate contributions. If you send us a press release it’s unlikely we will turn it into an article. We’re much happier seeing text from professionals with a close up view of policy, practice, and ideas in HE. 

You’ll need to be comfortable with your name and picture appearing alongside the article. Wonkhe is keen to credit authors, and we don’t accept pseudonyms or unattributed work. If you are employed we recommend that you are courteous enough to make your press team aware that you are writing something for us. If any of this causes an issue for you – do talk to us, we can often help.

We have had thousands of diverse voices writing for us over the years – but white men remain over-represented in our output, so we’re especially keen to hear from you if you are under-represented in the public debate – for example if you have experience of being racially minoritised, are a woman or non-binary, or are disabled – or are otherwise under-represented in the higher education sector. 

The topic

Wonkhe covers higher education policy and practice in the UK. Everything we publish is related in some way to higher education thinking, policy, or practice. 

Ideally, we’d love your article to move the debate forward. This could be by adding a new perspective, by providing informed analysis, by drawing on history, or by predicting future developments. We don’t (ever) do personal attacks, and we look poorly on material that just reiterates well-established arguments. We look for a specific focus and clearly-defined angle – rather than a generic topic such as, say, “tuition fees”. One way of checking you have achieved this is testing whether you can sum up the argument of your article in a sentence. 

The best Wonkhe articles present an argument and help readers make sense of their own context by drawing out insight, innovation, or lessons for the wider sector. Accounts of personal experiences, case studies of “best practice”, or articles designed to promote other content (“we’ve published a report!”) should still follow this principle and be underpinned by analysis that gives readers a reason to engage with the piece.

Though we cover a lot of news, we are neither a newspaper nor an aggregator. Timely content can be useful, but we like to set the agenda rather than follow it. A response to a recent report, or a recent announcement, can act as a useful peg for a piece. But if your point is unique and interesting enough it wouldn’t need a peg at all.

Any content submitted to Wonkhe should be completely original; please ask about this if you’re unsure. We don’t repost content that has been published elsewhere.

The style

  • Use your own voice, and your own style, as far as you possibly can. Our readers are smart, spotting management-speak and cliches a mile off. Your article should be distinctive and authentic. We’d prefer you not to use too much jargon and to explain any new terms or abbreviations. Prioritise making your meaning clear and making your piece accessible to the non-specialist; academic writing conventions can confound this goal.
  • 800-1,200 words is the sweet spot if you want a word limit – but we can be flexible on this for certain cases. A good rule of thumb is to use the right number of words to land your argument. 
  • We don’t do footnotes, but please include hyperlinks where a citation is required to point to evidence that supports your argument. 
  • Vary the length of your sentences – long, and convoluted, structures tend to lose their meaning as they progress; making it difficult – if not impossible – for the reader to maintain the thread of an argument: thus few people will persevere to the long-delayed conclusion. In contrast – short phrases stand out. They grab the attention. But can sound like a politician’s speech. So don’t use them too often.
  • An extended metaphor is like dinner with a rhinoceros – it can work but is notoriously tricky. If you are going to attempt it, be careful not to obscure what you are actually saying.
  • A good opening paragraph introduces the argument and draws the reader in – but don’t do an academic paper style abstract, as that gives the game away entirely. Likewise, a good final paragraph should tie up any loose ends and offer a takeaway, a call to action, or conclusion.
  • English is the preferred language of Wonkhe – we’d ask that you write clearly and within generally accepted grammatical rules. Precisely how formal we are about grammar is a topic of endlessly fascinating debate within the editorial team.
  • We strongly recommend you read a few Wonkhe articles before you submit one. Not only will you be edified, informed, and entertained – you will have a good “feel” for what makes for an effective article.

The contact

Please send a pitch to the team. This could be a short outline of what you want to write, and your core argument, or the first draft of your article. If you’ve not written for us before please also include a high-quality .JPG headshot photograph (1000x1000px for preference), a two-line biography of yourself, and your Twitter handle. If you’ve already written for us do please tell us if your profile needs changing.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. On occasion, we may politely decline. If we do want to publish we’ll come back to you with suggestions, edits, or requests for further information. We know our audience so reserve the right to use our judgement in editing your work at any point, with the aim of improving its clarity and impact. We will endeavour to let you know when we hope to publish.

Each article has an open comments section for readers to add their thoughts and responses. We would encourage you to read and respond – our community is a very supportive one prepared for informed debate. If you have concerns about a comment please don’t hesitate to contact team@wonkhe.com.

We only accept exclusive content and we very, very rarely accept work that has already been published. We kindly ask that you do not republish elsewhere without asking us. 

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