TEF: what does a recent graduate think of the framework?

Kieran Knight reflects on the teaching excellence framework results and whether new students will find it a useful tool

June 28 2017
Exam results

As a recent graduate, I’ve been interested to read all the comments around the release of the UK government’s teaching excellence framework (TEF) results, and I am pleased that teaching is now in the spotlight. Current students and recent graduates are likely to be looking at the results with interest and comparing them to their own experiences. People will be interested in the rating for their own university, particularly as there have been some surprising outcomes.

Like many undergraduates, when it came to applying to university, I was bombarded with different ranking tables, all weighting institutions using criteria I didn’t fully understand. Many students have high expectations of the teaching they will receive. In fact, the latest Student Academic Experience Survey indicates that teaching stands out as a major driver of value for universities. And given that university fees are such a significant investment, it makes sense for students to be informed before making such a massive commitment.


What is the TEF? Results of the teaching excellence framework
TEF: striking the balance between teaching and research for students


A cursory look at the TEF results table will have either sparked gasps of horror or collective sighs of relief in the higher education sector. I was pleased the university I had attended - the University of Portsmouth - received a gold rating for teaching excellence.

From the outset, I realised that one of Portsmouth’s core strengths was the continuous support and guidance that students receive. From open days, when lecturers would stay on and speak to students and parents well past closing, right through to tutoring sessions – help was always on hand. In my opinion, Portsmouth is a great university for creative courses. The courses are regularly updated to ensure students are provided with the most relevant industry knowledge. 

Many students would agree that securing a job is one of the most important returns on their investment of time and money at university. Designing courses that prepare students for the jobs of the future should be at the top of every university’s agenda.

The contacts and techniques I acquired through the university allowed me to obtain a job at one of the leading visual effects studios in the world. I can say that I’ve found an exciting job, one that I’ve trained for. This, unfortunately, is not the case for many students.

A lot of commentators agree that the TEF will require further development. But at least with this new ratings system for teaching excellence, the efforts of universities to provide an outstanding experience for their students are now being recognised. A more accurate picture of the quality of teaching in UK higher education is now on offer and, crucially, this will help future students make the right choice about where to study.

Kieran Knight is a 2017 computer animation graduate from the University of Portsmouth  

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