The British Government wants to maintain the international reputation of the country's higher education sector and improve teaching quality and experience in British universities. The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a new way that the UK Government has developed to provide guidance to institutions and students about the teaching quality.
What The TEF Looks For
The TEF takes into consideration the dropout rate of undergraduate students, rates of employment of graduates and data from the National Student Survey on Views on Teaching, Assessment and Academic Support. This data was then compared against a benchmark statistic based on the demographic of each institution's students. 2017 was the first time that these statistics were official complied, but there was a trial run of the system in 2016.
How The TEF Is Calculated
If a university did significantly better or worse than the benchmark, then its performance was flagged. The total number of positive or negative flags produced an initial assessment of Gold, Silver or Bronze and the institution was able to provide evidence to support or defend its position. A panel of judges then assessed this information and gave their opinion as to the final result. The panel was comprised of academics, employer representatives and students chaired by Professor Chris Husbands.
Details of Some of The Top Universities
A total of 295 institutions took part with around 50% of them achieving a silver award, 26% gaining a gold award and 24% awarded a bronze.
A Selection of TEF Gold Award Winners
A few highly respected RusselL Group universities, such as the University of Southampton, the University of York and Durham University did not score as highly as expected and are currently challenging the results.
What To Take Into Consideration
Like many university rankings, the TEF is from an undergraduate perspective only. It's also important to note that the teaching quality is the opinion of the students currently studying there. A prestigious university might score lower than a less prestigious one because the undergraduates had higher expectations of teaching quality than those attending the less prestigious university. Some institutions, especially in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, decided not to participate in the TEF and those that did are allowed to increase their tuition fees in line with inflation. This means that if a university you are interested in does not feature you should check details about it elsewhere rather than immediately discount it.
With the increase in undergraduate tuition fees in England and Wales analysis of value for money is only going to grow. This is great news for postgraduate students looking for guidance, but the focus is often going to be on the undergraduate experience. This is why rankings like the THE and others which predominantly take academic research into account are a valuable resource to a potential postgraduate student.