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About the TEF

The UK has a world-class higher education sector, with rigorous systems in place to ensure high quality teaching. The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) recognises excellent teaching, in addition to existing national quality requirements for universities, colleges and other higher education providers. It provides information to help prospective students choose where to study.

The TEF is voluntary and each higher education provider decides whether or not to take part.

The TEF was developed by the Department for Education in England. While higher education policy is a devolved matter, individual higher education providers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also able to take part if they wish to.

Participating higher education providers receive a gold, silver or bronze award reflecting the excellence of their teaching, learning environment and student outcomes. The awards cover undergraduate teaching.
The Government introduced the TEF in 2016 as a trial year, from which lessons will be learned for future years. The results were published in June 2017.

Participating higher education providers and their TEF awards are listed here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/teaching/tef-outcomes.

Universities and colleges in England that have a TEF award can increase their tuition fees in line with inflation, for full-time undergraduate UK and EU students. Universities and colleges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are able to take part in the TEF, with no direct impact on their tuition fees.

Our result

University of Essex Online has achieved a gold rating in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that University of Essex Online delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Our statement of findings

The TEF Panel reviewed the provider metrics and provider submission according to the process and criteria specified in the TEF guidance.
The provider metrics supplemented by the submission indicate that students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes. In particular the Panel noted that part-time student satisfaction with teaching and continuation are above the provider’s benchmark and that satisfaction with assessment and feedback and academic support are exceptionally high and above benchmark. Progression to employment, highly skilled employment or further study are consistent with the provider’s benchmarks.

The Panel considered the provider’s submission and supplementary metrics, where appropriate, in relation to the TEF criteria and its judgement reflects, in particular, evidence of:

  • integrated formative feedback in the programmes and a rapid turnaround of formative and summative marks
  • course design and assessment practices that provide scope for high levels of stretch
  • customised study plans and flexible approaches to the speed of study that support personalised learning
  • strong pastoral support underpinned by effective use of learner analytics
  • vocational programmes delivered by industry professionals that support progression to employment and high median earnings.

Overall, the TEF Panel judged that the combination of evidence in the provider metrics and the provider submission best fits the descriptor for a Gold award.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which higher education providers have TEF awards?

Higher education providers decide whether or not to take part in the TEF. Participating providers and their TEF awards are listed here: www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/teaching/tef-outcomes.

What do the gold, silver and bronze awards mean?

A provider taking part in the TEF is awarded:

  • gold for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK
  • silver for delivering high-quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education
  • bronze for delivering teaching, learning and outcomes for its students that meet rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.

What do provisional awards mean?

The higher education provider meets rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education, and is taking part in the TEF, but does not yet have sufficient data to be fully assessed. The provider may be fully assessed in future when it has sufficient data.

How are the TEF awards decided?

The awards are decided by an independent TEF Panel of experts, including academics, students and employer representatives. See www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/tef/panel/.
The provider’s undergraduate teaching is assessed against ten criteria that cover the areas of teaching quality, learning environment and student outcomes.
The TEF Panel considers evidence from a set of metrics using national data as well as written evidence submitted by the provider. The metrics cover continuation rates, student satisfaction and employment outcomes. The metrics for each provider are benchmarked to take account of differences in its students’ characteristics, entry qualifications and subjects studied.
View the metrics and provider submissions at www.hefce.ac.uk/tefoutcomes.

 

Is there more information about a provider’s TEF award?

A short statement by the TEF Panel explains each provider’s award. Read the statements at www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/teaching/tef-outcomes.

What if a higher education provider doesn’t have a TEF award?

All higher education providers in the UK must meet rigorous national quality requirements for higher education. The TEF measures excellence in addition to these requirements and is voluntary. If a provider has no TEF award it may have decided not to take part. You can find out more about the national quality requirements here:

  • The approach to quality assessment in England
  • The Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework
  • The Quality Assessment Framework for Wales
  • The approach to quality assessment in Northern Ireland.

To be eligible to take part a provider must meet national quality requirements and teach at undergraduate level.

How does the TEF affect tuition fees?

Universities and colleges in England that have a TEF award can increase their tuition fees in line with inflation, for full-time undergraduate UK and EU students. Tuition fee loans will also increase with inflation.
Universities and colleges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are able to take part in the TEF, with no direct impact on their tuition fees.

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