More UK universities appeal against TEF ratings

UEA and Soas among institutions challenging awards in sector-wide assessment of teaching quality

August 3, 2017
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You cannot be serious! To be successful in appeal, institutions will have to demonstrate that they have been the victim of a ‘significant procedural irregularity’

More higher education institutions, including the University of East Anglia and Soas, University of London, have confirmed that they are appealing against their ratings in the UK’s teaching excellence framework.

In a Times Higher Education survey of 91 providers that got the lower “silver” or “bronze” awards in the sector-wide assessment of teaching quality, which attracted 70 responses, 11 institutions confirmed that they had submitted appeals.

These include the four Russell Group institutions that had previously confirmed their intention to appeal – the universities of Southampton and Liverpool, which got bronze, and two silver providers, Durham University and the University of York.

The survey reveals that, alongside UEA, which got silver, and Soas, which was awarded bronze, a further five bronze institutions have submitted appeals. These are Bucks New and York St John universities, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and the universities of Roehampton and Suffolk.

Swansea University, which got silver, told THE that it had submitted notice of intention to appeal, but that its case had been ruled to be inadmissible, so had not proceeded to a full appeal.

The London School of Economics, the third member of the Russell Group to get bronze, told THE that it had not appealed against its rating. Neither has BPP University, a leading for-profit provider, which also got a bronze award.

The TEF ratings are based on benchmarked metrics relating to graduate employment, student satisfaction and course completion rates, plus a 15-page narrative statement submitted by institutions.

Following the publication of the results on 22 June, universities had to give notice of their intention to appeal by 27 June, and to submit full details of their case by 18 July.

The results of the appeals will be announced in the middle of this month.

Sir Christopher Snowden, Southampton’s vice-chancellor, had claimed that there was “no logic” in his institution’s result, arguing that the TEF’s benchmarking process was “fundamentally flawed”.

But, to be successful in an appeal, institutions will have to demonstrate that they have been the victim of a “significant procedural irregularity”, and will not be able to challenge the underpinning principles of the TEF or the academic judgement of panels, according to guidance issued by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Speaking to THE in June, Dennis Farrington, co-author of The Law of Higher Education, said that universities would find it hard to overturn their result on the basis that TEF metrics did not adequately reflect teaching or that the benchmarking system was unfair.

“The TEF is a voluntary process so the terms and conditions must have been accepted by those who decided to apply for an award,” said Professor Farrington, a visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies. “It's really too bad if an institution now says the process was flawed – this should have been raised at the beginning.”

Commenting on the survey results, Professor Farrington added: "Given the very transparent way the exercise has been conducted, and that it is as yet voluntary, the number of appeals might be considered to be more than expected."

Overall, a third of the 137 higher education institutions and alternative providers with university status assessed in the TEF received gold awards. Nearly half (49 per cent) got silver, with just under one in five (18 per cent) getting bronze.

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (2)

Everyone except some silly self-important bureaucrats knows the TEF is fundamentally flawed and not fit for purpose. When you end up giving Golds to places like Coventry, Blackpool and the Fylde College ! (YES), Bishop Grosseteste University, De Montfort University, University of Derby, Cleveland College of Art and Design, Falmouth University, The University of Huddersfield, The University of Northampton, Liverpool Hope University, Middlesbrough College and Bronzes to well respected and intellectually more rigorous places places like SOAS, LSE, Liverpool University then anyone with a brain inside their head would know something is seriously amiss. The TEF is a complete waste of tax payers money.
How boringly elitist of you ! I presume these university's accepted the terms of reference before applying for a TEF award. They may be intellectually more rigorous, and goodness knows they are certainly more elitist, but the results show they do NOT have teaching excellence and to complain after the event is very very sad! I guess their VCs need to justify their over-inflated salaries!

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