TEF Announcement - What you need to know!

 What is the TEF?

The Teaching Excellence Framework is a government-run exercise to evaluate the quality of the undergraduate student experience in higher education institutions. Participation by universities, colleges and private providers is optional, and the consequences differ by nation of the UK as the funding and regulatory systems differ. The formal guidance on TEF can be found on HEFCE’s website.

While policies to promote excellence in teaching have a long history in UK higher education, TEF’s origin is in the Conservative government’s manifesto for the 2015 General Election, written by the now Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson. In the Cameron, then May, government higher education policies were developed through a Green Paper (2015) White Paper (2016) and the Higher Education and Research Act (2017) 

The Government has introduced the TEF as a way of:

- Better informing students’ choices about what and where to study
- Raising esteem for teaching
- Recognising and rewarding excellent teaching
- Better meeting the needs of employers, business, industry and the professions

How does TEF work?

Each institution is presented with six metrics, two in each of three categories: Teaching Quality, Learning Environment and Student Outcomes and Learning Gain. For each of these measures, they are deemed to be performing well, or less well, against a benchmarked expectation for their student intake. The input metrics are based on student satisfaction measures, retention and employment.  Those positive and negative ‘flags’ add up to a provisional categorisation. When entering TEF, institutions also submit a provider statement where they can comment on their data and add in other information.

TEF is very different to other existing university league tables. TEF will be a distinct evaluation of universities ‘performance’ for three main reasons:

  1. Unlike almost all higher education rankings and evaluation exercises, research performance will have no bearing on the outcomes.
  2. Unlike other evaluations, students’ entry grades will not be used as a judge of quality.
  3. Unlike other rankings and evaluations, TEF will provide a judgement of relative, rather than absolute, performance through its data benchmarking process. This makes it a better measure of performance but is more confusing for demonstrating student outcomes.

And of course, unlike other university league tables, TEF is being run by the government.

What will the results of TEF be?

Institutions are awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold by the TEF Panel. The outcomes will be ranked and published. The institutions taking part will also receive a statement of findings outlining factors which contribute to the overall given award.

How will this impact the AECC?

Based on evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that AECC delivers high quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.

The awards are for the whole institution. An individual school, faculty, department or course may not claim that it has a TEF award: the award refers to the institution as a whole and is not subject specific.

The rankings could potentially influence how prospective students make decisions about where to study.