Teaching excellence framework (TEF): everything you need to know

The TEF is coming to England, but what is it, and what does it mean for higher education?

August 4, 2015
A green pencil beside ticked boxes
Source: iStock

The teaching excellence framework will see the government monitoring and assessing the quality of teaching in England’s universities.

How it will work has yet to be decided, but the government has stated that the TEF will aim to:

  • ensure all students receive an excellent teaching experience that encourages original thinking, drives up engagement and prepares them for the world of work
  • build a culture where teaching has equal status with research, with great teachers enjoying the same professional recognition and opportunities for career and pay progression as great researchers
  • provide students with the information they need to judge teaching quality
  • recognise institutions that do the most to welcome students from a range of backgrounds and support their retention and progression
  • include a clear set of outcome-focused criteria and metrics.

Times Higher Education will be following the development of the TEF closely. In the meantime, here are some articles that will help you understand what it might mean for England’s universities.


The government has published its higher education White Paper. Visit our White Paper page for all the latest updates.  

The government has  also published a review of data sources for metrics to assess teaching quality and student outcomes. Download it here. 


Latest TEF developments:

THE mock TEF results
Our data team has modelled the TEF and predicted the results

TEF to have Olympic medal-style ratings
Gold, silver and bronze awards confirmed

University graduate employment data
Wide variation in UK higher education institutions’ graduate employment record has been revealed by data that will be a key metric for the TEF

TEF ‘is about much more than teaching’
Focus on teaching in proposed framework ignores its primary role as extra quality assurance tool, claims researcher

Running TEF panels ‘could cost £500K’ a year 
Figure described as ‘tip of the iceberg’ of new system’s price tag

Does anyone actually want a teaching excellence framework?
Dorothy Bishop examines the government's claims about student satisfaction

Students ‘not enthusiastic’ about teaching excellence framework
Ministers press ahead with plans to assess institutions despite warnings from research they commissioned

Will TEF link to multiple fee caps be dropped?
Plans for 'failure regime' also on the agenda for higher education bill after Queen's Speech

Destabilising the teaching excellence framework
TEF challenges for students’ union officers

NUS to encourage students to ‘wreck’ the TEF with NSS boycott
Students will be asked to sabotage the National Student Survey unless ministers pull back from reforms

Is the TEF on the right track? 
MP Amanda Milling says that universities must engage with the TEF to make it a success

TEF: ‘poorly designed’ system will harm reputations, MPs warn
BIS Committee urges government to implement full TEF only when metrics are right

The higher education Green Paper

The HE Green Paper, published in November, contains further detail on the TEF. Please visit our Green Paper page for full details.

Overview of the teaching excellence framework

Jo Johnson unveils the teaching excellence framework
Universities and science minister announces details of the TEF, following confirmation that it will be introduced in England.


What the TEF might look like

THE mock TEF results
Our data team has modelled the TEF and predicted the results in full

How might a teaching excellence framework be built?
THE reporter, Jack Grove, takes an in-depth look at how the TEF might be put together.

How the higher education sector should engage with the development of the TEF
Derfel Owen, director of academic services at University College London, urges against nit-picking.

Poor students’ ‘cognitive gain’ may play role in TEF
What metrics might be included in the TEF?

Jo Johnson: TEF will include metrics on widening participation
Minister reveals more details on what the TEF mght measure


More analysis of the teaching excellence framework

Does the sector need a teaching excellence framework?
Before the TEF was confirmed, THE investigated whether there was a need for such a project.

Want to raise the quality of teaching? Begin with academic freedom
University of Sheffield vice-chancellor Keith Burnett considers the challenges of introducing the TEF.

TEF would lead to time wasted ‘giving tuna sandwiches to assessors’
Edinburgh principal Sir Tim O’Shea warns that the TEF might distract from universities’ real mission.

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Reader's comments (1)

As a practising Christian and a member of The Gideons, I am concerned, deeply, by the increasing reistance to the teaching about Jesus in our schools and colleges. I appreciate that all education establishments need to take into account the broad range of religions followed by the many ethnic groups in their care, however whether one follows any particular faith or not, the teachings of Jesus; genuine Love and care for others, patience, a desire for Peace, self-control, gentleness and faithfulness to our partners and friends, ARE good and rightful characteristics which should be nurtured in young people. Although I worship regularly, I do not consider myself 'religious'. Trying to follow the teachings and the examples set by Jesus are more important than 'Religion'. Will 'TEF' recognise the strengths and benefits of Jesus' teachings to our society by ensuring that students receive sound and honest teaching in the true meaning of Christianity, rather than a superficial mention, by someone uneducated in God's Word, as a 'sop' to pressures from more violent and threatening religious groups, who have no place in a compassionate society?

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