The new league table for educational standards was scheduled to be released on 14 June. But a circular issued by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to participating institutions said that a delay had been ordered by the Department for Education.
No new date has been set for the release of the results.
In the circular, Madeleine Atkins, the chief executive of Hefce, says that, even though the “purdah” restrictions on public announcements will end when a government is formed, “beyond this point, there will continue to be consideration of the implications of the election outcome across Whitehall and Westminster”.
“We have therefore understandably been told this morning by the Department for Education to postpone the TEF results announcement,” Professor Atkins writes. “I have written assurance that this is a postponement, and that the rescheduled dates will be issued shortly.”
Professor Atkins adds that Hefce was “aware that many colleagues across the sector have been making significant preparations for the announcement”, and that she was “very sorry for the obvious difficulties that this postponement will cause”.
In a blog published earlier this week, Nick Hillman, the director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, had called for the TEF to be postponed. He argued that any newly appointed universities minister might struggle to defend the controversial exercise if they had only been in the job for a day or two.
“Both the minister and the TEF itself would be tarnished if they end up at the heart of a political row in the early days of the new Parliament,” Mr Hillman wrote.
The TEF will rate universities’ teaching as "gold", "silver" or "bronze", based on metrics for student satisfaction, retention and graduate employment, and submissions made by institutions.
Some of the UK’s most prestigious universities are expected to be among those rated as bronze, an outcome that could limit their ability to raise tuition fees.