IHF conducts research in fields of current relevance to higher education policy, and it provides bases for planning and decisions to the Bavarian State Ministry for Education, Science and the Arts, the Bavarian State Parliament (Landtag), and the state's higher education institutions. Its important activity areas include advising and supporting Bavaria's higher education institutions.
IHF's current research emphases include the following:
- Governance and management of higher education institutions (including strategic planning data)
- Studies and students (including digitalization in teaching)
- Transitions between school, higher education and work
- Research and academic careers (including stakeholders in the higher education sector)
- Internationalisation and international comparisons
The institute produces three publication series: "IHF kompakt," "Studien zur Hochschulforschung" ("Studies on higher education research") and "Beiträge zur Hochschulforschung" ("Contributions to higher education research"), an independent journal that has appeared since 1979. All content that appears in the publications is also provided online, on the IHF website.