The 2018 UCAS cycle is the first complete year students could use the TEF to inform their decision of which universities and colleges they wanted to apply to.
More than 85,000 students were surveyed about the TEF shortly after the 15 January deadline.
UK applicants are twice as likely to know what the TEF is (19 per cent of applicants) compared to applicants from the EU and outside the EU (9 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively).
58 per cent of students who knew about the TEF said the awards were important or extremely important to them in deciding where to apply.
UCAS’ analysis also shows that students who know about the TEF are, on average, more likely to apply to a university or college that holds a gold rating.
Of the students who didn’t know about the TEF, 60 per cent said that if they had known about it, the ratings would have been an important factor in deciding where to apply.
Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said: ‘While awareness of the TEF among applicants is relatively low, it seems to be emerging as a factor in influencing students’ decision-making.
‘However, students and their advisers should be aware that not all universities and colleges in the UK take part in the TEF, and that the TEF award is currently made at the level of a provider, rather than by subject.
‘While ratings can be helpful, our student insight shows there’s no substitute for thorough research on individual courses, and the experience of attending a university or college open day.’
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UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is a charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage almost three million applications from around 700,000 people each year for full-time undergraduate courses, at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.