Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – Frequently Asked Questions

Overview of the TEF

Professor Tim Quine, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) explains more about the TEF.


The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a very ambitious government programme to assess the quality of teaching; the learning environment; and, the outcomes for students in Higher Education.

The aim is not only to inform prospective students but also to encourage institutions to raise their performance. Importantly, the TEF directs universities to focus on the experience and outcomes of ALL students, explicitly addressing these for under-represented groups.

We decided we should participate in TEF 2017 in order to have a voice in its development and to help prospective students make a choice between different institutions.

TEF is an annual exercise that will be implemented by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Office for Students in the future. There are two main parts to the TEF:

  1. A set of benchmarked quantitative data about the experience and outcomes for our students. These data allow each University to compare their own data with their own specific benchmark, based on the experience and outcomes of similar students undertaking similar degree programmes at other Universities
  2. A 15 page qualitative case for excellence that each University has created – in this we discuss our benchmarked data and provide richness to the description of excellence of teaching quality, learning environment and student outcomes.

These two pieces of information were considered and reviewed by a group of independent assessors, made up of academics, students and employers. They were asked to come up with a recommendation for a rating of a provider’s performance (either Gold, Silver or Bronze). All of these recommendations were then reviewed by the TEF Panel who came to an overall measure of teaching excellence for each institution.

The TEF will incentivise universities to focus on teaching and provide their students with high quality experiences and outcomes. Each provider with a TEF award will be rated as Gold, Silver or Bronze.

TEF provides students with a clear way of understanding current performance including areas of excellent teaching and identifying further improvements.

For future students, TEF will provide clear information about the quality of teaching and where students have achieved the best outcomes, to better inform their decision-making.

We have robust data across the range of metrics being assessed within TEF, with strong performance in the NSS, student retention rates and results for employment and further study. These webpages outline some of the distinctive initiatives that were included in the University’s submission, alongside its metrics.

In 2016-17, TEF awards are based on two pieces of information from each university:

  1. an evidenced narrative of teaching and learning activities that either mark them out as distinctive, or exceed the established expectations for teaching quality
  2. institution-wide data that is already collected i.e. through the NSS, comprising teaching quality, the learning environment (including student retention) and student outcomes (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey).

When £9,000 tuition fees were introduced in 2012, no allowance was made for the fees to track inflation. The government is aiming to rectify this but will ensure that only universities that can demonstrate high quality teaching are allowed inflationary rises. This mean a university that achieves a TEF rating in 2017 of Gold, Silver or Bronze can raise their fees in line with the inflation forecast in 2018/19. However, in subsequent years from 2020/21, only universities with a Gold or Silver TEF rating will be able to track inflation fully. Those with TEF Bronze will be able to increase by 50% of inflation. For more information on the TEF visit the HEFCE website.

Postgraduate education is not in scope at the moment, but is likely to be included in future years.

We made our submission in January 2017. The results of the TEF were announced on 14 June 2017. For more information on the TEF visit the HEFCE website.

The TEF ratings (Bronze, Silver and Gold) were decided by an independent panel of experts made up of academics, employers and students having been reviewed by a larger group of assessors. Information about the TEF panel is available on the HEFCE website.