When you’re choosing a university to attend, you need to have confidence in the quality of teaching. In fact, it’s one of the most important factors students look into before shortlisting and applying to higher education institutions. One of the ways you can determine whether a university meets standards set for excellence in higher education is through the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). If you’re wondering what this is and how it can help you make the right decision when narrowing down or selecting universities, you’re in the right place. We’re going to discuss these questions and more in this article.
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What Is the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)?
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a measure that the Government of England introduced in 2017 to assess excellence in teaching in colleges and universities. This voluntary national exercise looks at how well universities and colleges ensure good outcomes for their students regarding teaching, employment, and more. The initial exercises for the framework took place between 2017 and 2019 and will be recognised until 2021.
What Are TEF Ratings?
TEF ratings are the result of the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) and consist of four rankings ranging from gold to provisional.
According to the framework, TEF Gold institutions deliver “consistently outstanding teaching, learning, and outcomes for its students” and represent “the highest quality found in the UK.”
Therefore, TEF Gold awards indicate that a university has outstanding teaching outcomes and has ranked highly in almost all metrics.
TEF Silver institutions deliver “high-quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students” and “consistently exceed rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.”
TEF Silver awards indicate that the universities deliver high-quality teaching outcomes and rank highly in most metrics.
TEF Bronze institutions deliver “teaching, learning and outcomes for its students” that meet “rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.”
TEF Bronze awards indicate that universities satisfy the framework’s national quality requirements.
TEF Provisional awards indicate that the institution meets “rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education” and takes part in the TEF but hasn’t been fully assessed.
These colleges and universities either didn’t provide enough information, or they couldn’t make a fair judgment regarding their status.
How Do TEF(Teaching Excellence Framework) Ratings Work?
TEF ratings are determined by an independent panel of academics, students, and other experts based on a combination of official data and data submitted by the universities themselves. It should be noted that to receive a TEF award, the colleges and universities have to meet the quality standards set for UK universities. The TEF awards acknowledge this and measure excellence in teaching in addition to the standards already met.
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) aims to raise teaching standards and encourage universities and colleges to better their practices by offering ratings to educational institutions. This is why the universities that achieve excellence are rewarded.
Publicly funded universities in England that receive TEF awards are rewarded by being able to charge higher maximum tuition fees, i.e., £9,250 per year instead of £9,000 per year. However, this is only the case in England. Universities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are not subject to this.
What TEF Ratings Tell You
TEF ratings are based on several metrics, including continuation rates, student satisfaction rates based on the National Student Survey, graduate employment rates, academic support, and how much students are stimulated and challenged.
Therefore, TEF ratings are useful and help you see how courses are designed and assessed, the time students get to spend with their teachers and tutors, how academically stretched the students are, and statistics involving dropping out, satisfaction, and employability. Since detailed results are available, this can help students make informed decisions about which university they want to attend.
However, there’s also a lot that TEF ratings don’t tell you, and they shouldn’t be used as an absolute guide. Much like other rankings and league tables, TEF ratings are only one part of the equation. Since the universities and colleges are ranked based on their own student bodies, TEF ratings can’t be compared. One institution may have a TEF Gold award, and another may have a TEF Bronze award, but they had different benchmarks to meet.
Additionally, the universities are judged as a whole and not for individual degrees or courses. Therefore, this doesn’t help you determine the specifics of your exact course or major, which could be very different from the overall ranking.
Should TEF Ratings Dictate University Choice?
TEF ratings are an additional tool you can use when looking at different universities and colleges. However, they should never dictate university choice. One major reason is that not all universities have a TEF rating. The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a voluntary measure, and many universities have chosen not to take part in it. Only 300 universities across the UK hold a TEF rating.
Additionally, teaching is only one aspect of many that you need to consider when making your decision. Therefore, while TEF ratings are a quick insight into teaching standards at an institution, they don’t tell you all there is to know about it.
It should also be noted that the TEF Awards are only valid until 2021. In Autumn 2021, the Office for Students (OfS) is developing a new TEF framework and will publish the awards regarding this framework in 2023. Because of this, while the current ratings are a good indication of teaching standards at different institutions, they’re not up-to-date measures of teaching quality.
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All of that being said, TEF ratings and awards are still one of the many useful rating systems you can use to narrow down university choices. You can find the full list of TEF rankings here and can sort them by country as well as see when each university received its award. Use the rankings as a guide instead of a strict rule, considering them and other important factors like location, accommodation, fees, and more to make the best decision for your future. To know more detailed information, please contact us.