Edward Peck, the vice-chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, argues “Don’t attack the TEF, embrace it” (Opinion, 23 June). Such a view makes me despair. The teaching excellence framework does not measure teaching quality. It measures a range of metrics, but it cannot measure teaching quality because it does not analyse actual teaching. This is a simple and obvious point, which in itself invalidates the exercise. This is why the TEF doesn’t command support among staff and students. We value good teaching; but the TEF has nothing to do with that. All it gives us is one more system to game.
In “Stop celebrating the TEF results – your hypocrisy is galling!” (Blog, 23 June), Emilie Murphy says that the public “will view gold, silver and bronze as ‘good’, ‘average’ and ‘bad’”. What concerns me about the “University X got a gold” approach is that it suggests that the whole university – every department and programme – meets the standard. It fact, it’s more likely that whatever award was given was in spite of a lot of areas that needed work.
A gold award feeds among applicants a sense of reassurance, which may be groundless, that the course they’re interested in must be at least part gold standard, and an assumption by staff that their courses won’t be pressed too hard as long as the institution maintains gold overall.
Re “TEF: ‘meaningless’ results ‘devoid of credibility’, says v-c”. The University of Southampton volunteered to take part, obviously thinking that it would do well. Now that things have not gone its way, it’s all a bit like sour grapes. Would Sir Christopher Snowden, the vice-chancellor of Southampton, be complaining if the university had got a gold award? Unlikely.
Reading Southampton’s TEF submission was interesting. The expectation was for silver – talk about not aiming high enough. Indeed, I wonder just how poor teaching is across the UK: most “lecturers” I have contact with have no “professional” pedagogical qualification.
I used to teach at a post-1992 university (awarded a gold in the TEF) that had many graduates go on to the Russell Group university in the same city. They always came back and told us how much better our teaching was (even though at the time the university was near the bottom of the league tables).
For too long, Russell Group universities have relied on their reputation (based on research and being hard to get into) and have neglected the things that matter most to students – teaching and student support. Hopefully the TEF will mean more status for those of us who teach with some research rather than the researchers who teach (if they have to).