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The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

What is the TEF?
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a new government framework aiming to measure the teaching quality of higher education providers. The TEF assessment applies to undergraduate students only. The aims of the TEF are to:

  • Better inform students’ choices about what and where to study
  • Raise esteem for teaching
  • Recognise and reward excellent teaching
  • Better meet the needs of employers, business, industry and the professions.

Almost all universities in England are currently participating in Year Two of the TEF.

Why is QMUL participating in the TEF?
We believe that continued engagement with the government’s proposals will enable us to play a part in their development. We aim to ensure that proposed reforms work in the best interests of students, researchers, institutions, the economy and wider society.

How is the TEF assessed?
Institutions will be assessed in three areas:

  • Teaching quality
  • Learning environment
  • Student outcomes and learning gain

Existing benchmarked metrics are used to assess institutions. The results from these metrics are averaged over three years. They measure:

  • How satisfied students are with aspects of their teaching and learning (using the National Student Survey from 2014, 2015 and 2016)
  • How many students do not continue with their studies into the second year (using HESA non-continuation data for 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 entrants)
  • How many graduates are in work (highly skilled or otherwise) or study six months after graduation (using the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey for 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 graduates).

Institutions also submit an evidenced narrative providing information such as their mission, context for the assessed metrics, and students’ views. Queen Mary Students’ Union has contributed to QMUL’s written submission for the TEF.

Does the TEF assess postgraduate teaching?
Postgraduate education is not being assessed by the TEF at this stage.

How will institutions be rated?
A TEF panel, which includes students, academics, widening participation experts and employers, is responsible for deciding the assessment outcomes. The panel’s decisions will be based on recommendations and advice from a wider pool of academic and student TEF assessors.

Institutions may be awarded one of three ratings: gold, silver or bronze. This rating will be valid for three years, but an institution can choose to submit again before required to do so (eg, with the aim of improving their rating).

Will the TEF mean that tuition fees will rise?
Institutions achieving a gold, silver or bronze rating in TEF Year Two (awarded in 2017 and applying to fees from 2018/19) will be able to apply a tuition fee uplift for undergraduate Home and EU students that is in line with inflation. From Year Three onwards, ratings, including Year Two ratings, will be used to inform differentiated fees.* Increases in tuition fees go some way towards offsetting the drop in real value (due to inflation) of fees since their introduction at £9,000 in 2012, allowing institutions to maintain and improve the experience of their students in the context of rising costs. 

QMUL has confirmed that all home and EU students who have enrolled on undergraduate degree programmes at QMUL up to and including 2016/17 will not be subject to tuition fee increases for the duration of their current studies. Students who are currently registered on pre-sessional and foundation programmes, and students who restart their undergraduate studies on a substantially new programme, will be subject to the higher fee from 2017/18.

What next for the TEF?
QMUL made its TEF Year Two submission by the deadline of 26 January 2017, alongside a total of 299 universities, colleges and alternative providers of higher education that have chosen to participate. The outcomes and accompanying information will be published at the end of May 2017. Providers will be able to keep their award for a maximum of three years.

After TEF Year Two, a lessons-learned exercise will be undertaken by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Pilots are planned for Year Three to test the assessment frameworks for subject-level assessments, and potentially TEF will be extended to postgraduate taught provision in later years.

Where can I find more information on the TEF?
HEFCE has provided specific guidance for students on their dedicated TEF pages.

* The House of Lords recently backed an amendment to the Higher Education Bill regarding the proposed link between TEF performance and fees. You can find out more here

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