What is the TEF?
The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) has been introduced by the Government in England to recognise and 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 looks at excellence in addition to the UK’s rigorous quality requirements.
TEF is currently voluntary, designed for universities and colleges in England, but those in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are also able to choose to participate. 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.
What if a university or college doesn't have a TEF rating?
TEF is currently voluntary. 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:
- The approach to quality assessment in England
- The Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework
- The Quality Assessment Framework for Wales
- The approach to quality assessment in Northern Ireland
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.
Publicly-funded universities and colleges in England with a TEF award may charge up to the higher maximum tuition fee for 2019 entrants. The maximum tuition fee they can charge for a full-time course is £9,250 per year. Those without a TEF award can charge a maximum of £9,000 per year. The government will announce maximum fees for the academic year 2020/21 in due course.
Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland
As the TEF is an England initiative, in which HE providers from the other UK nations can participate, gaining a TEF award has no effect on the tuition fees providers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales can charge.
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.
In the TEF, 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.
It's worth knowing that universities or colleges can have the same rating while offering a different student experience. This is because the TEF assessment takes into account a course provider's mix of subjects, and the characteristics and entry qualifications of its students. The ratings reflect what it achieves for its particular student body.
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.
What information is available about the TEF ratings?
As well as the TEF rating itself, you can review the TEF award summary, which explains the reasons behind the rating. You can also look at the metrics and providers' statements which contributed to the TEF award.
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. The assessment takes into account each course provider's particular mix of students – their characteristics, entry qualifications, and subjects studied.
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 2020 entry, TEF ratings are allocated at university or college-level, and not to a specific course.
During 2020, the Office for Students (OfS) will develop a new framework for the TEF. This will take account of the recommendations in Dame Shirley Pearce’s independent review of the TEF, the Government’s response to it, and the findings of the latest subject-level TEF pilot.