Today, the Government published its first major assessment of teaching standards in higher education as measured by the newly-introduced teaching excellence framework (TEF).
What is the teaching excellence framework?
The Government introduced the TEF to monitor and assess the quality of teaching in England’s universities. Up until this point, universities have received their research funding based on their performance in the national research excellence framework (REF). Universities minister Jo Johnson proposed that it might be better to alter the framework in favour of teaching instead.
TEF has a gold, silver and bronze ratings system. In its first year, the scheme will allow universities and colleges to increase their tuition fees, in line with inflation, if they have passed a baseline quality standard.
How do you measure good teaching?
More than 130 UK universities received gold, silver or bronze ratings, but what metrics did the government use to measure the quality of their teaching?
Universities were measured on the following:
- Students’ view on quality go teaching as taken from the National Student Survey. This includes how students rate their teachers’ assessment and feedback and how much academic support they receive from staff.
- Dropout rates as supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
- The annual destination of leavers from the higher education survey.
Differences between institutions, such as entry qualifications and subjects studied, were taken into account by an independent panel.
Which universities came out on top?
Of the 295 universities and colleges that took part in the voluntary scheme, 59 were rated gold, 116 silver and 56 awarded bronze. The results came as a shock to many as some of the UK’s most prestigious universities missed out on gold, including more than half of Russell Group institutions.
The University of Portsmouth, Coventry, De Montfort University and Bangor were awarded gold despite their traditionally low ranking on the university league tables. The University of Oxford and Cambridge, unsurprisingly, came out on top with a gold ranking.
How does the teaching excellence framework affect tuition fees?
Universities with a successful TEF award will be able to increase fees for full-time courses, in line with inflation. This means that for 2017, the maximum fees will be £9,250 a year. In Wales, fees will remain capped at £9,000.
The changes apply to courses starting from September 2017. They may also apply to existing students who started after 1 September 2012. It is up to each university to decide whether or not to change their fees.