The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The TEF awards

The awards are rated as Gold, Silver, Bronze and Provisional. Participation is voluntary. You can see what each university achieved by looking on the University Profiles.


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 do not currently have enough data to be fully assessed. 

What you need to know

What is the TEF?

The TEF is an initiative created to encourage and recognise high-quality teaching and student outcomes in higher education introduced by the government in England. The TEF measures excellence in three areas: teaching quality, learning environment, and the educational and professional outcomes achieved by students.

The TEF does not measure teaching quality itself, but a range of measures which the English government views as related to teaching quality. To take part in the TEF, universities and colleges must meet the existing quality standards of their home nation (i.e. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales) – the TEF measures excellence in addition to these requirements. With that in mind, here are some important points to remember when using the TEF:

Use other sources of information 

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

As with our university and subject league tables, the TEF awards do not 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 is important to thoroughly research your choice of course and university. As well as the TEF, you should use the league tables – both overall, and the relevant subject tables. Check course entry requirements. Read the university profiles, and attend open days. Ultimately, you need to ensure that you choose the right course and the right university for you.

The data used by the TEF is already used in league tables

The six measures used to establish the TEF awards use some of the same data as we use to compile the Complete University Guide’s University League Tables. However, the TEF uses the data in a different way, notably benchmarking against a range of factors. The TEF awards themselves are not used in compilation of the league tables.

The TEF is not a ranking

Unlike our league tables, the TEF does not rank or compare higher education providers against one another. 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 which are not included in calculating the TEF awards. Providers are able to appeal against their awards.

Not every university features in the TEF

Participation in the 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 the TEF.

The TEF 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 for 2019 undergraduate entrants. Institutions without a TEF award can charge a maximum of £9,000 per year.

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

The English government had originally intended to link success in the TEF to tuition fee increases from 2020 and English universities with a TEF award would have been able to increase tuition fees in line with inflation. However, this plan was dropped. 

How the TEF awards are calculated

2019 is the third year of the TEF awards, which are valid for three years. Many of the current award holders received their award in 2017. 

Awards are made against six measures covering teaching quality, the learning environment, and student outcomes and learning gain. The measures and 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.

MeasureData source
Course teaching NSS
Assessment and feedback NSS
Academic support NSS
Non-continuation (student retention) HESA and ILR data
Employment or further study DLHE
Highly-skilled employment or further study DLHE

NSS – National Student Survey
HESA – Higher Education Statistics Agency
ILR – Individualised Learner Record
DLHE – Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

  • Full details of ratings, metrics, statements of findings and the submissions provided in support of the assessments can be found on the OfS (Office for Students) website.