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Choosing where to study

What’s the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)?

Discover the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which presents Gold, Silver, Bronze and Provisional awards to UK universities for quality of teaching.

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  1. What are TEF awards?

  2. How are TEF awards calculated?

  3. Key things to know about TEF awards

  4. Making university decisions

What are TEF awards?

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) encourages and recognises high-quality teaching and student outcomes in higher education. The awards are rated as Gold, Silver, Bronze and Provisional. You can see what each university has achieved on their individual profiles.

TEF measures excellence in three areas: teaching quality, learning environment, and the educational and professional outcomes achieved by students. It doesn’t measure teaching quality itself, but a range of measures that the government views as related to teaching quality.


Awarded to institutions that...

TEF Gold

Consistently deliver outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students

TEF Silver Badge

Deliver high-quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students, and consistently exceeds ‘rigorous national quality requirements’ for higher education in the UK

TEF Bronze Badge

Deliver teaching, learning and outcomes for its students that meet ‘rigorous national quality requirements’ for higher education in the UK

TEF Provisional Badge

Meet ‘rigorous national quality requirements’ for higher education in the UK, but which don’t currently have enough data to be fully assessed

How are TEF awards calculated?

Many current award-holders first received their award in 2017. These last until 2021.

The measures and data sources are listed below. Each higher education provider can also submit additional evidence of teaching excellence. Contextual data about each institution’s students is also used, such as ethnicity, gender, disability and subject of study.


Data source

Course teaching

National Student Survey (NSS)

Assessment and feedback

National Student Survey (NSS)

Academic support

National Student Survey (NSS)

Non-continuation (student retention)

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and Individualised Learner Record (ILR) data

Employment or further study

Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey

Highly-skilled employment or further study

Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey

You can find full details of ratings, metrics, statements of findings and the submissions provided in support of the assessments on the Office for Students (OfS) website.

Key things to know about TEF awards

TEF awards in league tables

The data used by TEF is already used in league tables. The six measures in TEF awards use some of the same data used to compile our league tables. However, TEF uses the data in a different way, notably benchmarking against a range of factors. TEF awards themselves aren’t used in the compilation of league tables.

TEF isn’t a ranking

Unlike our league tables, TEF doesn’t rank or compare higher education providers against each other. The award indicates how a university or college has performed against expectations for its own students and against similar institutions. There are elements of the teaching and student experience that aren’t included in calculating TEF awards. Providers are able to appeal against their awards.

Participation in TEF is voluntary

To take part in TEF, universities and colleges must meet the existing quality standards of their home nation (i.e. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales) – TEF measures excellence in addition to these requirements.

Participation in TEF is voluntary and there may be good reasons why some high-quality universities and colleges have chosen not to take part. The Open University, for example, is distinctive in that all its courses are offered solely via distance learning, and many of its students are already employed during their studies. In the future, universities and colleges in England that register with the Office for Students will have to take part in TEF.

TEF awards and tuition fees

Publicly funded universities and colleges in England with a TEF award may charge up to the maximum tuition fee of £9,250 per year. Institutions without a TEF award can charge a maximum of £9,000 per year.

Holding a TEF award has no effect on tuition fees universities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales may charge.

Making university decisions

Don’t rely solely on TEF when making your decision about what and where to study. Remember that TEF ratings are for a university and not individual courses.

As with our university and subject league tables, TEF awards don’t tell the whole story. Not every course offered by a Gold-rated university will be the best, while universities with lower awards may offer outstanding courses in specific areas.

For a well-rounded view, it’s important to thoroughly research your choice of course and university. As well as TEF, you should use the overall league tables and relevant subject tables. Check course entry requirements. Read the university profiles, and attend open days. Ultimately, you need to be sure that you choose the right course and the right university for you.

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