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What is the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)?

The Teaching Excellence Framework in plain English: find out what TEF results mean for you.

What is TEF?

You may have heard universities and the higher education sector talking about the Teaching Excellence Framework or TEF.

TEF is a new way that the government has introduced to evaluate universities to encourage excellent teaching in universities and colleges. The TEF aims to help students find the right university for them by providing clear and unbiased information about teaching quality and how well students do after they graduate.

How did St Mary's do?

St Mary's achieved Silver Status. The panel that evaluated the University found that;

'The provider metrics, supplemented by the submission, indicate that most students achieve excellent outcomes. Very high proportions of students continue with their studies and progress to employment or further study, with highly skilled employment being particularly notable.'

What does Silver status mean?

Silver status means that based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that St Mary's delivers high quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.

Why does TEF exist?

The Universities Minister Jo Johnson introduced TEF as part of his Higher Education Bill in 2017. TEF aims to address the culture in which the sector is encouraged to prioritise research over teaching.

How is TEF different to other rankings?

In rankings such as Times University Guide, Guardian University Guide, or Complete University Guide, universities and colleges are ranked on a range of criteria. Each has its own way of then using these criteria to rank universities.

Where TEF differs is that it looks exclusively at how well a university teaches its students, how satisfied students are, and how well they perform when they graduate.

This is important for prospective students because it removes a university's research output from how a university is judged. Whilst research is an important part of a university's contribution, it does not impact on the undergraduate student experience as much as teaching excellence and graduate outcomes.

How does TEF evaluate universities?

TEF looked at three categories when evaluating which award to give an institution. These are;

  • Teaching quality
  • Learning environment
  • Student outcomes

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