Soas, University of London has been upgraded to a silver rating in the UK’s teaching excellence framework, after submitting a successful appeal.
The institution had received a bronze rating, the lowest awarded, in the 2018 assessment, as it did in 2017, but it has long complained that its large international student cohort meant that it was penalised in the TEF.
Two “supplementary” metrics introduced for the 2018 framework drew on employment figures from the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) dataset, which does not include foreign learners and which treats UK-domiciled students who work abroad after graduation as if they were unemployed.
Deborah Johnston, Soas’ pro-director for learning and teaching, said that the revised rating “vindicates the confidence that we have always taken in the excellence of the student experience we provide at Soas”.
“As a strongly international institution with a diverse student body, we offer a distinctive and high-quality teaching and learning experience, which can be hard for a narrow metrics-driven TEF to adequately reflect,” Professor Johnston said. “Since the TEF was initiated, we have made clear our concerns in relation to the ‘bluntness’ of its approach and the flaws that we believe it continues to have.
“I am pleased that this silver rating makes clear that these concerns are not driven by the summary grading it delivers for us as an institution.”
Professor Johnston added: “We will continue to press for improvements and refinements in the way the TEF is constructed, especially around outcomes for international students and for UK students who go on to work overseas.”
Soas had been one of the most prestigious higher education institutions to have received a bronze in the TEF, alongside the London School of Economics. Professor Johnston had previously complained of a “London effect” in the TEF, with the cost of living in the capital perceived as dragging down institutions’ performance on satisfaction and retention.
The Office for Students, which administers the TEF, also confirmed that two alternative providers had been awarded “provisional” ratings after submitting appeals: St Patrick’s International College and the London College of Creative Media.