Teaching excellence score ‘key to applicants’ choices’

A survey has suggested that a good rating in England’s TEF would make an applicant consider studying at that university

September 15, 2016
Man pointing up with young woman
Source: Rex

A university’s score in England’s new teaching excellence framework (TEF) would overwhelmingly impact on applicants’ university choice, a survey has suggested.

In a question asked exclusively by Times Higher Education as part of University Partnerships Programme’s (UPP) annual Student Experience Survey 2016, 84 per cent of university applicants said that a good score in the TEF – which will assess university teaching using a variety of measures – would or definitely would make them consider choosing a particular institution.

When broken down further, of the 550 respondents to the question – “to what extent would a good TEF rating influence your university choice?” – nearly half said that it definitely would.

Jon Wakeford, director of strategy and communications at UPP, which invests in and provides student accommodation in the UK, said that this suggested “student expectations are increasing across a broad spectrum of services”.

“An emphasis on teaching quality has often been overlooked in favour of research impact,” he said. “Successfully completing their studies, having an excellent experience and gaining employability skills are clearly key drivers for students and we should expect this to continue.”

When the TEF was unveiled by the UK government last year, one of the key aims was to provide students with the information that they need to judge teaching quality at an institution.

Josephine Hansom, head of youth research and insight at YouthSight, carried out the research and said that although it remained to be seen whether an institution previously unknown to an applicant could “jump into the consideration category” through a good TEF score, the survey suggested that applicants would “definitely be paying attention to the TEF” in the future and that universities must be aware of this in their recruitment processes.

“The initial impact will be that the universities [that applicants] had [at the] top of their list will now be being judged on different criteria, which maybe universities aren’t necessarily geared up to talk about in their marketing and communications. Potentially, they might be a little bit caught unawares if they don’t pay attention to it now,” she said.

Ms Hansom said that it was important to note that the survey did not explain the “financial impacts that the TEF might have on tuition fees” to applicants. However, she said that the results showed that applicants were “a lot more switched on” about policy and “try and gather as much information as they can to make that choice [about where to study]”.

UPP’s full Student Experience Survey 2016 will be launched at the UK political party conferences that begin later this month.

john.elmes@tesglobal.com

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