As the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) moves into its third year, universities and students are becoming more familiar with the government’s new university rating system. With the year 2 ratings released in June 2017, the majority of HE providers in the UK now have a Gold, Silver, or Bronze TEF rating.
A consortium of students’ unions have come together to better understand what students across the UK think of TEF and of ‘teaching excellence’. Together with trendence UK, they have conducted the UK’s largest research project to date on students’ views of the TEF metrics.
This survey was conducted so that we can hear students’ voices on what they think of the TEF, how students themselves measure ‘teaching excellence’, and how the framework could, in its current incarnation, change the way students perceive the value of their universities and their courses.
This summer we questioned thousands of current university students, asking them to answer a range of questions about teaching experience and to give their opinions of the TEF. Some of the questions were straightforward and quantitative, others were open-ended and qualitative. This report summarises the findings.
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This research project was conducted by trendence UK
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Commenting on the research, Middlesex Students’ Union Vice President Joe Cox said:
“What this research demonstrates is that whilst students want a framework that drives excellence in teaching, the current TEF doesn’t fit the bill- missing key metrics and over aggregating into unhelpful medals that students don’t understand. These findings underline the importance of OfS involving students as partners in future iterations, working with applicants, students’ unions and graduates to design a framework that is flexible enough to recognise students’ multiple motivations for entering Higher Education”
Commenting further, UEA Students’ Union Undergraduate Education Officer Mary Leishman said:
“These findings represent the first meaningful student feedback on the Government’s teaching excellence agenda, and whilst there is much that reinforces the principles of TEF, there are also signs of unintended consequences- the most worrying of which is the idea that 10% of BME students would have been put off by a “Gold” rating. It’s crucial that OfS interrogates and takes on board the lessons from the research if it is to work effectively to improve student choice and better teaching”