V-cs want rethink over ‘£38 million bill’ for subject-level TEF

Universities UK fears cost of assessment could nudge £250,000 per provider

February 25, 2019
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English vice-chancellors have called on ministers to reconsider whether to push ahead with the subject-level version of the teaching excellence framework, amid warnings that it could push the cost of the exercise as high as £37.6 million – equivalent to £246,000 per provider.

As it made its submission to the independent review of the TEF being led by Dame Shirley Pearce, Universities UK said that the cost of the current assessment, which makes judgements at institutional level, was around £4.1 million.

However, the addition of discipline-specific evaluations, which are being piloted this year before being implemented in 2019-20, could massively increase the workload and cost faced by universities, according to UUK.

Under the current TEF, universities can submit a 15-page written submission alongside student outcome metrics, which are used to determine their final rating of gold, silver or bronze. Under the subject-level TEF, they will also be able to submit a common two-page provider summary for panels making discipline-level judgements, plus a five-page statement for each subject area, of which there are 35.

This means that a university submitting the maximum number of submissions at the maximum length could hand in 193 pages of information, once a one-page submission on part-time students is included.

A UUK report, The Future of the TEF, published on 25 January, says that around 4,000 submissions could be compiled across the sector.

Providers with more than 500 students will be required to take part in the subject-level TEF. An estimate by the Office for Students, which operates the assessment, says that, based on the 229 institutions in this category taking part, the total cost to providers would be £15.9 million, or £69,000 per provider. If all 426 institutions that are eligible to participate took part, the cost would be £23.8 million, or £56,000 per provider.

But UUK’s analysis, which includes an estimate of the number and cost of the days put into producing TEF submissions, suggests that the cost could be as high as £37.6 million. This does not include ongoing investments made to support improvements in areas assessed by the TEF.

UUK says that the government should not proceed with the subject-level TEF until its costs and its value have been “fully considered”.

Debra Humphris, vice-chancellor of the University of Brighton and chair of UUK’s student policy network, said that the subject-level TEF could “add complexity and considerable cost burdens to institutions”.

“This in turn could force a diversion of resource away from other investment programmes from which students benefit more clearly,” she said.

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Call for rethink of TEF as cost put at £38m

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Reader's comments (3)

"The TEF is now in its third year but still has some way to go before suspicion around its methodology and benefits subsides.", says your email introducing this story. The NSS has been around for far longer, and suspicion around its methodology and benefits has never subsided (for good reason). I suspect the TEF will continue in exactly the same way. We all know neither of them are particularly sound, but policy makers insist on being seen to do *something*, especially when it's a way to impose yet another their bone-headed and tedious marketisation chores on a sector that knows how iniquitous it all is. What a shock that it's yet another waste of effort and money, for so little real gain.
The TEF is just another bully metric device used by the managerialist cult to justify their parasite behaviour off the backs of proper academics who actually can teach, can write, can do research and can attract research funding - unlike their managers who have found a neerdowell niche to exploit at the expense of universities. No lectures or seminars are observed as part of TEF. It's simply more form fiddling and more admin used to derail academic staff - how does that equate to teaching excellence exactly? It doesn't! Kick these managerialist greedy sociopathic parasites out. Ignore these league tables other than to conduct research into those - such as the TEF publishing this very article - that creates its own league table to bully academic staff into stress, depression, heart disease, strokes, cancer, suicide and premature retirement. TEF - don't pour your urine down our backs whilst telling us its raining! Shame on you!
Well said just a bunch of useless bureaucrats many of whom are failed lecturers that found they can survive in the system as regulators. They have nothing to offer except impose their useless views on the lecturers that would do much better teaching if they did not have to waste their time on the useless TEF and silly meaningless gold silver and bronze awards

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