Russell Group response to TEF and student outcomes consultations

15 March 2022

The Russell Group has today (15 March) published its response to a series of consultations by the Office for Students (OfS) on teaching excellence, regulation of student outcomes, and outcome & experience measures. 

As the OfS finalises its next multi-year strategy, the Russell Group would encourage it to continue working with the sector to ensure regulation is risk-based and proportionate so universities can focus on delivering high quality higher-education for students and minimising unnecessary bureaucracy.

Our response contains a number of recommendations but our main asks are that the regulator:

(a) considers a greater emphasis on absolute values when assessing a provider's performance within the proposed TEF framework, to further capture high performance in absolute terms. 

(b) ensures a wide range of data on student experience is considered and feeds into a provider’s overall TEF award, avoiding an over-reliance on NSS data which has been subject to student disengagement in some institutions as a result of its inclusion in the TEF. 

(c) focusses the TEF exercise on reflecting absolute excellence above the quality baseline, including by revisiting the names of award categories like ‘Requires Improvement’ to ensure that these clearly communicate the nature of awards.

(d) adopts a proportionate and risk-based approach to regulating student outcomes wherever possible. For example, prioritising the most severe breaches against minimum thresholds for regulatory intervention will help protect students and avoid adding additional burden to high-quality providers.

(e) reconsiders its proposed implementation timeline to allow providers and the wider sector enough time to engage with new processes and ensure the proposed TEF exercise is meaningful.

Russell Group response to TEF and student outcomes consultations

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