The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

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In a series of blogs, the LPIP Hub explains what the three common university frameworks are, what the benefits are of these, and how they can be of interest to people outside academia.  Focussing on how collaboration and partnerships can help universities and conversely how performing well in these frameworks can be of benefit to our external partners.

Read the first blog in the series for information on the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

What is “the TEF”?

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a significant evaluative measure designed to assess the quality of teaching and learning environments in higher education institutions across the UK. It aims to provide prospective students with clear, accessible information about teaching quality at universities and colleges, influencing their choice of where to study. Additionally, the TEF has considerable implications for how institutions prioritise teaching and learning, affecting their strategies and behaviours. Currently, universities and colleges in England with a TEF award may charge up to the maximum tuition fee of £9,250 per year whereas those without a TEF award can charge a maximum of £9,000 per year. Holding a TEF award currently has no effect on fees in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Understanding the basics of the TEF, including its objectives, criteria, and impacts can be challenging for those not involved in the academic sector.

What are the benefits of the TEF?

Through the TEF, several key benefits are realized:

1. Prospective students and their families can make informed decisions about their higher education options based on the quality of teaching and learning environments at different institutions.

2. The framework encourages universities and colleges to continuously improve their teaching practices to achieve higher ratings, enhancing the overall quality of higher education in the UK.

3. Employers can identify institutions that produce highly skilled, employable graduates, facilitating better-targeted recruitment strategies.

4. The TEF provides an incentive for institutions to invest in teaching excellence and student services, aiming to improve student outcomes and satisfaction.

Why is the TEF of interest for people outside of education?

The relevance of the TEF extends beyond the educational sector, impacting broader societal and economic spheres. High-quality teaching contributes to the development of skilled, adaptable, and employable graduates, who are essential for addressing current and future challenges. Institutions with higher TEF ratings not only attract more students but also enhance their reputation, potentially leading to increased funding opportunities and partnerships with businesses and other organisations.

To score well in the TEF, universities and colleges must demonstrate excellence in teaching practices, provide robust evidence of positive student outcomes, and show a commitment to continuous improvement in these areas. This involves adopting innovative teaching methods, providing strong support for student learning, and ensuring that courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed for success in their careers.

In summary, the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) plays a pivotal role in elevating teaching standards and enhancing student experiences in higher education institutions across the UK. By providing a clear and accessible rating system, the TEF helps prospective students make informed choices, drives institutions to prioritize and invest in teaching quality, and supports the broader goal of creating a skilled and employable graduate workforce. Although this is a backwards-looking snapshot and does not necessarily reflect the university’s strategy or future, those interested in exploring the TEF ratings and understanding more about the teaching excellence of specific institutions can find further information by visiting the OfS website.

This blog was written by Elizabeth Goodyear, Programme Manager at City-REDI, University of Birmingham.


The views expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of City-REDI, WMREDI or the University of Birmingham.

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