Name change for England’s TEF reflects ‘student outcomes’ shift

‘Teaching excellence and student outcomes framework’ switch follows new metrics

October 9, 2017
Outcomes

The government has changed the name of England’s teaching excellence framework to the “teaching excellence and student outcomes framework”.

The name change, announced by the Department for Education on 9 October, reflects the additions of new metrics on student employment outcomes, including on graduate earnings.

Although the full name of the exercise changes, the acronym will remain as TEF.

The DfE published a specification document ahead of Year 3 of the exercise, detailing in full the changes to metrics already announced by universities minister Jo Johnson, along with a document on “lessons learned” from Year 2 of the exercise.

“We will…be changing the name of the scheme to the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF),” the DfE says in the latter document.

“This reflects feedback that the previous name could be misinterpreted as implying a narrow focus on teaching as it is conducted in lecture halls and seminar rooms, rather than the broad-based assessment of teaching and outcomes that is assessed by TEF.

“The new name better reflects the fact that the TEF has always had a strong focus on student outcomes and that this focus is being further strengthened through the inclusion of new metrics from the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes dataset.”

The DfE adds: “In recognition of the fact that many providers and third parties are currently actively communicating with students about the TEF, to maintain continuity and avoid confusion the acronym for the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework will continue to be ‘TEF’.”

As the value of National Student Survey results are halved within the TEF, new supplementary metrics on graduate employment outcomes are introduced, relying on the DfE’s LEO data, which measures the earnings of graduates across different universities and courses. There will continue to be a core metric derived from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey, into which LEO will be incorporated by 2020.

There will be two LEO-based supplementary metrics: one on the proportion of an institution’s graduates in “sustained employment” or further study three years after graduation, and another on the proportion of graduates above a “median earnings” threshold.

There is also a new supplementary metric on “grade inflation”.

The decision to freeze fees at £9,250, announced by Theresa May during the recent Conservative conference, has been seen by some as weakening the TEF. Gaining permission to raise fees in line with inflation had been a key incentive for participation. Mr Johnson had previously planned to create a system of variable fee rises linked to the TEF, to a maximum of inflation, after an independent review of the framework in 2019.

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

I may have missed something but surely TEF is pretty much dead now that the link to fees has been removed. What would be the incentive for a RG university to take part in this wholly voluntary exercise, knowing that they may end up with a bronze and even if they get gold there is no financial reward? There doesn't seem to be any point any more.

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