Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – what you need to know for courses starting in 2018

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What is the TEF?

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has been introduced by Government to encourage excellent teaching in universities and colleges. It is intended to help students choose where to study, by providing clear information about teaching provision and student outcomes.

The UK has a world-class reputation for excellence in higher education. This scheme is in addition to the UK’s rigorous quality requirements.

TEF is a voluntary scheme, which is now in its second trial year. Participating universities and colleges are able to achieve a gold, silver, bronze, or provisional rating.

Which universities and colleges have TEF ratings?

Universities and colleges that are eligible can decide whether or not to take part in the TEF.

View the full list of universities and colleges taking part in the TEF

What if a university or college doesn't have a TEF rating?

TEF is a voluntary initiative. If a provider does not have a TEF award, they may have decided to not participate for a variety of reasons, or may not be eligible to participate. Providers without a TEF rating will still be quality assured by the range of established and robust systems in operation across the UK.

You can find out more about the range of quality assurance mechanisms across the UK on each country’s website:

How does the TEF affect tuition fees?

Eligible universities and colleges across the UK can opt into TEF if they wish. However, the relationship between the TEF and tuition fees differs across the UK.

The achievement of a TEF award allowed participating universities and colleges in England to increase their fees in line with inflation. 

Any changes to fees applied to existing students who started their course at an English university or college after 1 September 2012. It is up to each university or college to decide whether to change their fees.

For the 2018 entry cycle, the Government has confirmed the tuition fee cap will be maintained at £9,250 per year.

While universities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales can choose to participate in TEF, where they do and a TEF rating is secured, that rating has not impacted on tuition fees.

Will my loan still cover my tuition fees?

The tuition fee loan will still cover the full cost of your university or college tuition fees.

Find out more about student finance

What do the gold, silver, and bronze ratings mean?

In the TEF trial, a higher education provider is rated:

  • gold for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning, and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK
  • silver for delivering high quality teaching, learning, and outcomes for its students. It consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education
  • bronze for delivering teaching, learning, and outcomes for its students that meet rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education

The ratings are decided by an independent panel of experts.

What do provisional awards mean?

The university or college is taking part in the TEF, but does not yet have sufficient data to be fully assessed. The university or college may be fully assessed in future when it has sufficient data.

How are the TEF ratings decided?

The ratings are decided by an independent panel of experts, including academics, students, and employer representatives.

Assessments are based on a set of metrics using national data and written evidence submitted by the university or college. The metrics cover continuation rates, student satisfaction, and employment outcomes for undergraduate students.

Find out more about the assessment process, metrics, and provider submissions

Does the TEF include postgraduate teaching?

TEF awards are only applicable to undergraduate teaching. Universities and colleges that do not teach undergraduate students will not have TEF awards.

The Government has indicated that it would like to extend TEF to include postgraduate teaching in the future.

Does the TEF apply at university/college or course-level?

For 2018 entry, TEF ratings are allocated at university or college-level, and not to a specific course. Pilots will be carried out in 2017/18 and 2018/19, to inform the future development of TEF, by testing how ratings could be assigned at subject-level as well as provider-level.

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