Goldsmiths told to improve student experience in new TEF results

Five more institutions achieve gold awards after OfS resolves challenges to original ratings

December 18, 2023
A boxer holds aloft his Lonsdale belt
Source: iStock

Five more universities have been awarded gold ratings in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), while one institution has been told its student experience “requires improvement” after a long appeals process was completed.

Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham Trent, Greenwich, Leicester and Lincoln universities have all been rated as gold standard, according to the latest updates announced by the Office for Students (OfS).

Of the 25 larger higher education institutions, primarily those with university status, that were left without an award in September, only one – Arden University – is still awaiting the result of its appeal.

Goldsmiths, University of London was among seven institutions to receive a bronze rating overall but its student experience was rated as “requires improvement”, the first public university to receive this designation for an aspect of its provision after it was introduced for the 2023 TEF to signify when the OfS determines an “absence of excellence”.

BPP University also got “requires improvement” for its student experience when the first results were announced in September.

Goldsmiths’ warden, Frances Corner, has previously raised concerns about the TEF process, claiming her institution and others had been treated unfairly because the number of students eligible for free school meals was not included as part of the benchmarking for the exercise, which, she claimed, had supressed its scores.

Reacting to its appeal result, Ernest Caldwell, Goldsmith’s pro warden for education and student experience, said: “Receiving the bronze award is a recognition of teaching excellence at Goldsmiths despite the increasing challenges posed to the sector and to creative organisations in particular. We are disappointed with our student experience award but are determined to make improvement of this measure a relentless focus over the coming years.

“Enhancing our students’ experience will be the centrepiece of our ambitious plans to be on a sustainable path to a gold TEF rating by 2033.”

The OfS had initially planned to deal with appeals over the summer but the process was extended due to the volume of challenges, leading some to claim that the whole framework was being undermined.

It had been assumed by many that those appealing had received poor results but, of the new ratings announced, 12 received silver, meaning the majority were awarded one of the top two scores.

Of the 25, 14 institutions received a different rating for the student experience compared with student outcomes, hinting at the reasons why the results have been contested. 

Jean Arnold, the OfS’ deputy director of quality, said the new ratings “continue to demonstrate that excellence is found across England’s diverse higher education sector” and would help guide prospective students in choosing where to study.

“The representations process – which allows universities and colleges to comment on the panel’s assessment – is important and thorough, and the TEF panel has examined representations and all available evidence before reaching its conclusions,” she added.

“These universities and colleges will now be able to promote their TEF awards and consider how they can continue to ensure that their students receive excellent teaching and successful outcomes.”

Andy Dainty, pro vice-chancellor for education at Manchester Met, said it was “delighted” to achieve gold in the latest ratings.

“This is a fantastic result for a university of our size and diversity, and for this assessment to conclude that our student experience is outstanding is testament to the hard work of everyone at the university,” he said.

Nishan Canagarajah, vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester, said he was “really proud” of the institution’s gold rating, which he said was “reflective of the hard work and creativity of our academic and professional services staff, who go above and beyond to give all of our students every opportunity to succeed”.

The ratings from the TEF 2023 exercise will be valid for four years until August 2027.

TEF 2023: latest results

University  Overall rating Student experience Student outcomes
Arden University Pending Pending Pending
Brunel University London Bronze Bronze Bronze
Buckinghamshire New University Silver Silver Silver
Edge Hill University Silver Gold Silver
Goldsmiths, University of London Bronze Requires improvement Bronze
London South Bank University Silver Bronze Silver
Manchester Metropolitan University Gold Gold Silver
Middlesex University Silver Bronze Silver
Northumbria University Silver Silver Gold
Nottingham Trent University Gold Gold Silver
Richmond, the American International University in London Bronze Bronze Bronze
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London Silver Bronze Gold
Staffordshire University Silver Silver Silver
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Bronze Bronze Silver
University for the Creative Arts Silver Silver Silver
University of Bedfordshire Bronze Silver Bronze
University of Greenwich Gold Gold Silver
University of Hertfordshire Silver Silver Silver
University of Leicester Gold Silver Gold
University of Lincoln Gold Gold Gold
University of Sheffield Silver Silver Silver
University of Surrey Silver Silver Silver
University of Sussex Silver Bronze Silver
University of the Arts London Bronze Bronze Silver
University of Wolverhampton Bronze Bronze Bronze

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles

Reader's comments (1)

What a joke the TEF is -nothing to do with teaching and some of the worst Uni's get the gold while some of the best get the silly bronze. Just a way of giving a load of bureaucrats something to do.