TEF: 3 things you need to know

22 June 2017

Today the government has published the first set of outcomes from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – a new tool that is designed to help people thinking about applying to university pick a course that is right for them.

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We all want students to have access to the information they need to take informed choices about their education. But if you are thinking about your university options, here are three things that you need to know about the TEF:

1.       This is a trial year and a review has already been announced.

The government have already announced a review of the TEF to try and improve the way it measures teaching quality. At the moment it uses things like National Student Survey scores – these are important, but people have asked whether they offer a truly reflective picture of the sort of teaching that universities offer.

2.       The TEF does not measure absolute quality.

Unis score well on TEF by beating targets set to reflect their current student population – so a top score on one thing or another is no guarantee an excellent uni will get a top TEF mark. The way the TEF is designed at present means that institutions with lower scores on things like the number of students who complete their course might find it easier to get a positive TEF flag than institutions where far fewer students drop out.

It is right that we recognise positive changes and celebrate them – but be aware that the TEF flags might not give you a full picture of the teaching and broader student experience you can expect.

3.       TEF is one source of information among many others.

This is a trial year, and not all unis are participating in the TEF, so it is important that you use other resources that are available. UCAS and others provide detailed guidance on what life is like at different universities. Have a good look around – and if you have any questions, university websites and admissions offices are the best place to get information on courses.

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