Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF): what it means for you
How will the government's new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) affect your university decision and how much you'll pay in fees? Let's clarify things for you...
What is the TEF?The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a new measure of teaching quality in Higher Education, assessing lots of different information and statistics about how students learn, the type of teaching they receive and how they fare after graduating.
The end result? A league table of Olympic-style gold, silver or bronze ratings for every participating university or college, to clearly show how they've been rated.
These rankings are just one of many sources to help you research and compare universities - factors such as the detail of the course itself, as well as the location and campus, should be high on your list of things to consider.
TEF results in full for 2017A total of 295 providers, including universities and further education colleges, have been ranked as part of the new system.
TEF winners and losersYou might spot some unexpected names in each of the categories, with well-known universities including Goldsmiths, London School of Economics, Liverpool, Southampton, Soas and St Georges University of London receiving bronze ratings.
The Universities of Cambridge and Oxford both scored gold rankings. Some smaller further education colleges providing degrees also achieved the highest score, including Blackpool and the Fylde, City College Plymouth, City of Liverpool College and Exeter, Leicester and Middlesbrough colleges.
We've listed the full TEF scores for universities and colleges so you can take a closer look through the results - read on for our advice on how to make best use of these.
Teaching quality and tuition feesThe aim of the TEF is to raise standards of teaching at universities, reward 'excellent' teaching and help students make more informed choices about what and where to study.
It also links teaching quality with tuition fees, so that only universities that achieve gold, silver and bronze are permitted to increase their fees above £9,000- £9,250 per year, in line with inflation.
So what do the TEF ratings tell you?
- Gold = outstanding
- Silver = high quality
- Bronze = satisfactory
- Provisional = The university or college is taking part in the TEF but does not yet have sufficient data to be fully assessed.
The ratings are awarded by a panel looking at a range of measures centred around 'teaching quality', 'learning environment' and 'outcomes'.
To break this down further, these measures include:
- How courses are designed and assessed.
- The amount of contact time students typically spend with tutors.
- How academically stretched students are.
- How well students develop their knowledge throughout the course.
- Official statistics around drop-out rates, student satisfaction and graduate employment.
What doesn't the TEF tell you?You'll start to spot TEF ratings being quoted by universities and on the Ucas website, in a similar way that a university will promote where they've ranked in the Complete University Guide, Guardian or Times Good University Guide rankings.
But just because a university has a gold ranking doesn't necessarily mean it's the right one for you - and similarly, a bronze-category uni shouldn't mean you discount it either.
As with other university league tables, use them as one of - rather than the - source of all information. You should bear the following in mind:
Behind the ratingsThere's more to the rating system than meets the eye. Each university or college is graded on the basis of its own student body, meaning that each one has a different set of benchmarks to meet for it to be awarded a particular rating - so these aren't a like-for-like set of results where you can directly compare one university against another.
At a uni, not subject levelFor now, the gold, silver and bronze ratings are awarded at an entire university level. That's pretty broad; you'll need to delve into the detail of the assessment to find out specifics for your subject or course, which could vary quite significantly.
Not all universities are taking partSome universities have chosen not to take part in the TEF, which is voluntary.
That could be for a range of reasons - including concerns about the way the rankings themselves have been calculated and their link with future tuition fee increases - not just because they didn't meet the scheme's criteria. So don't jump to any conclusions.
The TEF and your uni choicesThinking about which unis and courses to apply to right now? Here's how the TEF can help and what else you can do as part of your research:
- TEF ratings can offer a quick insight into how a university or college's teaching has been specifically rated.
- Alongside each TEF rating will be a summary that explains why that rating has been awarded - worth a read if you want to know more.
- Cross-reference the TEF ratings with the main league tables to get a further understanding of how different universities compare with each other - you can find these on our uni profiles.
- Dig into the detail of a course to decide whether it's right for you. Search for a course here on Which? Uni, and go on to compare student satisfaction and employability scores at this more detailed level and explore the course content, modules and more.
Take a look at the full TEF university rankings list for 2017 here