Press release

Universities opt in to the Teaching Excellence Framework

Universities show their support for a new assessment framework as part of government plans to raise standards.

Jo Johnson

Figures released today (Friday 27 January) have revealed that the vast majority of English universities have opted in to be assessed by the Department for Education’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

Applications for the first set of TEF assessments closed on 26 January 2017 and revealed that 299 providers agreed to participate, including all English members of the Russell Group. This included applications from more than 100 colleges and alternative providers.

The framework will assess higher education institutions against criteria including drop-out rates and progression to highly skilled employment and is part of the government’s plans for raising standards in higher education. It will also give students more information so that they can make the most informed decisions when deciding which university to attend.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

I am delighted that so many providers have decided to participate. The Teaching Excellence Framework will drive up the standard of teaching and give students clear, understandable information about where they are likely to receive the best teaching and outcomes.

Such strong participation demonstrates that the sector has bought into the concept of the TEF and I look forward to seeing the results of the assessments in May.

Participating providers will be assessed by an independent, expert group of academics, students and employers, and will receive their ratings in May 2017.

As set out in its White Paper, ‘Success as a knowledge economy’ (May 2016), the government will shortly begin a lessons learned exercise into this first, trial year of the TEF. The findings of the lessons learned exercise will inform the operation of the TEF in 2018 and the intention to move to subject level assessments.

Notes to editors

1) The TEF assessments will trial the full assessment process at provider level, on a voluntary basis. In order to receive a TEF award, providers must pass a series of eligibility requirements and demonstrate that they meet the high baseline of quality expected by the UK higher education sector.

2) Providers will be assessed by an independent, expert group of academics, students and employers, on the basis of core evidence such as drop-out rates and progression to highly skilled employment, as well as additional evidence submitted by each provider.

3) Most providers who opt in for TEF will receive a rating of either ‘gold’, ‘silver’ or ‘bronze’ and are due to receive their ratings in May 2017. Where a provider meets other TEF eligibility requirements but does not yet have sufficient data to be fully assessed, it will receive a provisional award, and DfE expects that these providers will participate in the full TEF assessments in future years. Providers from the devolved administrations were able to participate in the TEF and 12 providers from the devolved administrations have opted to do so.

4) The lessons learned exercise will focus on:

  • whether the process of application and assessment worked smoothly and effectively
  • whether the guidance to providers was clear and understandable
  • the way in which the metrics were used, in particular the use of significance flags and their role in generating initial hypotheses
  • the balance of evidence between core metrics and additional evidence
  • whether commendations should be introduced for the next round of TEF assessments
  • the number and names of the different ratings and their initial impact internationally

5) The lessons learned exercise will be conducted by means of a survey of all participating providers, feedback from panellists and assessors and desk-based research. The government will also seek input from providers who chose not to participate in the trial year, as well as those who did not have sufficient data to receive a full assessment.

6) The TEF assessment process is being delivered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), who has been asked to implement Year 2 of the TEF.

7) More information on the Teaching Excellence Framework is available.

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Published 27 January 2017