The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)
What is the TEF?
The TEF is a new government initiative created to recognise and reward high-quality teaching in higher education in England. It has been designed to:
- Provide students with clear information about the quality of teaching.
- Encourage a focus on the quality of teaching in higher education.
- Encourage universities to address inequality amongst different student groups.
The TEF awards
The awards are rated as Gold, Silver, Bronze and Provisional, and will be valid for up to three years. In total, 296 higher education providers participated in the TEF. You’ll find the TEF award for each university or college involved in the scheme in our university profiles.
What do the TEF awards mean?
Awarded to institutions that…
consistently deliver outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students.
deliver high-quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students, and consistently exceeds "rigorous national quality requirements" for higher education in the UK.
deliver teaching, learning and outcomes for its students that meet "rigorous national quality requirements" for higher education in the UK.
meet "rigorous national quality requirements" for higher education in the UK, but which do not currently have enough data to be fully assessed. Providers must opt in for this award.
What you need to know
The TEF does not measure teaching quality itself, but a range of measures which the government views as related to teaching quality. 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 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. TEF ratings 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.
The TEF and tuition fees
The UK Government had intended to link success in the TEF to tuition fee increases from 2020 and English universities that have a TEF award would have been able to increase tuition fees in line with inflation. However, this plan has since been scrapped and TEF will not be linked to tuition fee increases. There will be an independent review of the TEF in 2019–20 which will evaluate whether it is robust and helpful to students.
Universities in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland may opt in to the TEF.
|Arts, Drama & Music League Table|
|Institution||CUG 2019 Rank (April 2018)||TEF Award (June 2017)|
|Royal Central School of Speech and Drama||1||Gold|
|Royal Conservatoire of Scotland||2||n/a|
|Courtauld Institute of Art||3||Silver|
|Royal Academy of Music||4||Gold|
|Royal College of Music||5||Gold|
|Guildhall School of Music and Drama||6||Silver|
|Royal Northern College of Music||7||Gold|
|Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance||8||Bronze|
|Conservatoire for Dance and Drama||9||Gold|
|Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts||10||Gold|
|Rose Bruford College||11||Gold|
|Glasgow School of Art||12||n/a|
|n/a – These institutions did not take part in the TEF|
How the TEF awards are calculated
Awards are made against six measures covering teaching quality, the learning environment and student outcomes. 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.
|Assessment and feedback||NSS|
|Non-continuation||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.
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