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. 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. 

Compare the university league table rankings with the TEF awards

University League Table
Institution CUG 2019 Rank (April 2018) TEF Award (June 2017)
Cambridge 1 Gold
Oxford 2 Gold
London School of Economics 3 Bronze
Imperial College London 4 Gold
St Andrews  5 Gold
Durham 6 Silver
Loughborough 7 Gold
Lancaster 8 Gold
Warwick  9 Silver
University College London  10 Silver
Bath 11 Gold
Exeter 12 Gold
Leeds 13 Gold
East Anglia (UEA)  14 Gold
Bristol 15 Silver
Birmingham 15 Gold
Nottingham 17 Gold
Manchester 18 Silver
Surrey 19 Gold
Southampton 20 Bronze
York  21 Silver
Newcastle 22 Gold
Edinburgh 23 n/a
Glasgow 24 n/a
Sussex 25 Silver
Essex 26 Gold
King's College London 26 Silver
Royal Holloway 28 Silver
Aberdeen 28 n/a
Sheffield 30 Silver
Dundee 31 Gold
Reading 32 Silver
Cardiff 33 Silver
Leicester 34 Silver
Heriot-Watt 35 Silver
Queen's, Belfast 36 n/a
Liverpool 36 Bronze
Queen Mary, University of London 38 Silver
Swansea 39 Silver
Strathclyde 40 n/a
Stirling 40 n/a
Nottingham Trent 42 Gold
Lincoln 43 Gold
Kent 44 Gold
Aston 45 Gold
SOAS University of London 46 Bronze
Coventry 47 Gold
Harper Adams 48 Gold
Arts University Bournemouth 49 Gold
Brunel University London 50 Silver
Portsmouth 51 Gold
St George's, University of London 52 Bronze
Liverpool Hope 53 Gold
Keele 54 Gold
Unversity for the Creative Arts 55 Silver
Northumbria 56 Silver
Manchester Metropolitan 57 Silver
West of England, Bristol 58 Silver
Liverpool John Moores 59 Silver
Huddersfield 60 Gold
Bradford 61 Silver
Bangor 62 Gold
Goldsmiths, University of London 62 Bronze
Norwich University of the Arts 64 Gold
Aberystwyth 65 n/a
Oxford Brookes 66 Silver
City, University of London 66 Silver
Bournemouth 66 Silver
Sheffield Hallam 69 Silver
De Montfort 70 Gold
Roehampton 71 Bronze
Edge Hill 71 Gold
Ulster 73 n/a
Staffordshire 73 Silver
Queen Margaret 75 n/a
Buckingham 76 Gold
Cardiff Metropolitan 77 Silver
Plymouth 77 Bronze
Salford 79 Bronze
West London 79 Silver
Leeds Arts 81 Silver
Westminster 82 Bronze
Robert Gordon 83 Gold
University of the Arts, London 84 Silver
Glasgow Caledonian 85 n/a
Chichester 86 Silver
Hertfordshire 86 Silver
Gloucester 88 Silver
Derby 89 Gold
Falmouth 90 Gold
Winchester 91 Silver
Teesside 92 Silver
London South Bank 93 Silver
Hull 94 Silver
Kingston 95 Bronze
Greenwich 96 Silver
Birmingham City 97 Silver
Chester 98 Silver
Sunderland 99 Silver
Abertay 99 Silver
Edinburgh Napier 101 n/a
Central Lancashire 102 Silver
Bath Spa 103 Silver
St Mary's, Twickenham 104 Silver
Middlesex 105 Silver
Brighton 106 Silver
South Wales 107 n/a
Leeds Trinity 108 Silver
East London 109 Bronze
Worcester 110 Silver
Canterbury Christ Church 111 Silver
Solent 112 Bronze
Northampton 113 Gold
West of Scotland 114 n/a
University of Wales Trinity Saint David 115 Bronze
Anglia Ruskin 116 Silver
Royal Agricultural University 117 Silver
Bedfordshire 118 Silver
Newman 119 Silver
Bishop Grosseteste 120 Gold
Leeds Beckett 121 Silver
Buckinghamshire New 122 Bronze
Cumbria 123 Bronze
York St John 123 Bronze
Birkbeck, University of London 125 Silver
Bolton 126 Silver
Wrexham Glyndŵr 127 Silver
Suffolk 128 Bronze
Wolverhampton 129 Bronze
Plymouth Marjon 130 Silver
London Metropolitan 131 Bronze
n/a – These institutions did not take part in 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
Ravensbourne 13 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 OfS (Office for Students) website.