Higher Education Policy Network (HEPN)

Welcome to the HEPN web pages.  The Network has been created for anyone to engage with the intellectual, professional and public debates about topical policy issues in higher education, through a seminar series with invited speakers and network meetings. 

The Network meets quarterly throughout the year - some meetings include speakers (both internal and external to the University), others may be held on an occasional basis to enable forum members to discuss topical issues.  A members' mailing list has been created to support and engage the network between meetings.  More information about the purpose of the Network can be found in the notes of the first meeting (from the link in the right hand box).

Upcoming Event

Date: Wednesday 19 September 2018
Panel includes: Annette Bramley, Richard Jones, James Wilsdon, Tom Forth
Venue: Inox Suite, Level 5, Students' Union Building

We are delighted to invite you to attend the next HE Policy Network event.  The topic will be: The Biomedical Bubble: why UK research and innovation needs a greater diversity of priorities, politics, places and people

Panel includes:

  • Richard Jones, University of Sheffield and co-author of The Biomedical Bubble
  • James Wilsdon, University of Sheffield and co-author of The Biomedical Bubble
  • Kirsten Bound, Director of Policy, Nesta (tbc)
  • Hakim Yadi, CEO, Northern Health Science Alliance (tbc)
  • Tom Forth, Head of Data, ODI-Leeds
  • Annette Bramley, Director of N8

Biomedical science and innovation has benefited from significant increases in public investment over the past fifteen years. This builds on the remarkable strengths of the UK’s academic life sciences base and pharmaceutical industry. But continuing to prioritise the biomedical, in a period when government aims to boost research and development (R&D) spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP, risks unbalancing our innovation system, and is unlikely to deliver the economic benefits or improvements to health outcomes that society expects.

For too long, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors have dominated policy thinking about translating research, but these sectors are in deep trouble, with R&D productivity plummeting and R&D investment falling. Meanwhile, much of the wider innovation needed for the NHS, public health and social care has been under-resourced. Greater emphasis needs to be given to the social, environmental, digital and behavioural determinants of health, and decisions about research priorities need to involve a greater diversity of perspectives, drawn from across the country. The creation of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which aims to bring a more strategic approach to funding and prioritisation, is the right moment to rethink this balance.

In an important new report for Nesta, Richard Jones and James Wilsdon from the University of Sheffield, set out why and how the UK needs to escape the biomedical bubble if it is to realise the economic, social and health potential of extra investment in R&D. This panel will bring together the report's authors and national and regional experts in innovation, health and productivity to debate its findings.

Book here to ensure your place at this event. Please note places are limited.

Keeping informed

Register here to join the  HEPN network.

We also produce a weekly Policy Briefing which summarises what’s going on in the higher education policy world each week.

Register Here for the Policy Briefing.

Past Events

Our most recent speaker was The Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts.  Previously we have had talks from Paul Blomfield MP, Neil Carberry, CBI Director of Education and Skills, Dr Dave Smith, Managing Director for the Sheffield City Region and Professor Richard Jones, Professor of Physics at the University of Sheffield, Anne-Marie Canning, Director of Widening Participation at King’s College London and Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode, Senior University Teacher in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield, David Palfreyman, Bursar and a Fellow of New College, University of Oxford, Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International (UUKi), Professor Peter Scott, Professor of Higher Education Studies at the UCL Institute of Education, Aaron Porter, previous NUS President, Professor Les Ebdon, Director of OFFA, Paul Clark, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The slides for the talks are available in the HEPN Event Archive, (from the link in the right hand box)