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…

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. 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. There will be an independent review of the TEF in 2019–20 which will evaluate whether it is robust and helpful to students. However, this plan has since been scrapped and TEF will not be linked to tuition fee increases. 

Universities in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland may opt in to the TEF. As is the case in England, there is no link to funding.

Compare the university league table rankings with the TEF awards

University League Table
Institution CUG Rank April 2017 TEF Award June 2017
Cambridge 1 Gold
Oxford 2 Gold
St Andrews 3 Gold
London School of Economics 4 Bronze
Imperial College London 5 Gold
Durham 6 Silver
University College London 7 Silver
Warwick 8 Silver
Lancaster 9 Gold
Loughborough 10 Gold
Bath 11 Gold
East Anglia (UEA) 12 Gold
Surrey 13 Gold
Exeter 14 Gold
Leeds 14 Gold
Birmingham 16 Gold
Bristol 17 Silver
Nottingham 18 Gold
Sussex 19 Silver
York 20 Silver
King's College London 21 Silver
Manchester 22 Silver
Edinburgh 23 n/a
Newcastle 23 Gold
Kent 25 Gold
Southampton 26 Bronze
Reading 27 Silver
Glasgow 27 n/a
Heriot-Watt 29 Silver
Leicester 30 Silver
Dundee 30 Gold
Sheffield 32 Silver
Essex 32 Gold
Queen Mary 34 Silver
Royal Holloway 35 Silver
Queen's, Belfast 36 n/a
Cardiff 37 Silver
SOAS University of London 38 Bronze
Stirling 39 n/a
Aberdeen 40 n/a
Liverpool 41 Bronze
City 42 Silver
Coventry 43 Gold
Swansea 44 Silver
Strathclyde 45 n/a
Harper Adams 46 Gold
Brunel 47 Silver
Keele 48 Gold
Aston 49 Gold
Lincoln 50 Gold
Goldsmiths 51 Bronze
Nottingham Trent 52 Gold
St George's, University of London 53 Bronze
University for the Creative Arts 54 Silver
Northumbria 55 Silver
Portsmouth 56 Gold
Bournemouth 57 Silver
Bradford 58 Silver
Liverpool Hope 59 Gold
West of England, Bristol 60 Silver
Arts University Bournemouth 61 Gold
Manchester Metropolitan 62 Silver
Falmouth 63 Gold
Edge Hill 64 Gold
Bangor 65 Gold
Oxford Brookes 66 Silver
Cardiff Metropolitan 67 Silver
Aberystwyth 68 n/a
Sheffield Hallam 69 Silver
Roehampton 69 Bronze
Ulster 71 n/a
Huddersfield 72 Gold
Middlesex 73 Silver
Hull 74 Silver
Robert Gordon 75 Gold
Liverpool John Moores 75 Silver
Plymouth 77 Bronze
Buckingham 78 Gold
Hertfordshire 79 Silver
Glasgow Caledonian 79 n/a
West London 79 Silver
De Montfort 82 Gold
University of the Arts London 83 Silver
Norwich University of the Arts 84 Gold
Winchester 85 Silver
Chichester 86 Silver
Gloucestershire 86 Silver
Abertay 88 Silver
Brighton 89 Silver
Bath Spa 90 Silver
Chester 91 Silver
Queen Margaret 92 n/a
Greenwich 93 Silver
Edinburgh Napier 94 n/a
Central Lancashire 95 Silver
Westminster 95 Bronze
Derby 97 Gold
Salford 98 Bronze
Birmingham City 99 Silver
West of Scotland 100 n/a
Teesside 101 Silver
Sunderland 102 Silver
Kingston 102 Bronze
Worcester 104 Silver
Staffordshire 105 Silver
Canterbury Christ Church 106 Silver
Royal Agricultural University 107 Silver
London South Bank 108 Silver
Bedfordshire 109 Silver
South Wales 110 n/a
Northampton 110 Gold
Leeds Trinity 112 Silver
Newman 113 Silver
East London 114 Bronze
Bishop Grosseteste 115 Gold
Birkbeck, University of London 116 Silver
Southampton Solent 117 Bronze
Anglia Ruskin 118 Silver
University of Wales Trinity Saint David 119 Bronze
St Mary's, Twickenham 120 Silver
Leeds Beckett 121 Silver
York St John 122 Bronze
Cumbria 123 Bronze
Buckinghamshire New 124 Bronze
Bolton 125 Silver
Plymouth Marjon 126 Silver
London Metropolitan 127 Bronze
Wrexham Glyndŵr 128 Silver
Suffolk 129 Bronze
n/a – These institutions did not take part in the TEF


Arts, Drama & Music League Table
Institution CUG Rank April 2017 TEF Award June 2017
Courtauld Institute of Art 1 Silver
Royal Academy of Music 2 Gold
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 3 Gold
Royal College of Music 4 Gold
Guildhall School of Music and Drama 5 Silver
Royal Northern College of Music 6 Gold
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 7 n/a
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 8 Bronze
Conservatoire for Dance and Drama 9 Gold
Leeds College of Art 10 Silver
Glasgow School of Art 11 n/a
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts 12 Gold
Rose Bruford College 13 Gold
Ravensbourne 14 Silver
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.

MeasureData source
Course teaching NSS
Assessment and feedback NSS
Academic support 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 HEFCE website.