What is the TEF? Results of the teaching excellence framework

The results of the teaching excellence framework (TEF) and what they mean for students

June 22 2017
Winners' podium

What is the TEF?

The teaching excellence framework (TEF) is a system that assesses the quality of teaching in universities in England. It also includes some universities from Scotland and Wales.

The framework has been introduced by the government to provide a resource for students to judge teaching quality in universities and to increase the importance of teaching excellence (and bring it into line with research excellence) when rating institutions. It is important to note that currently the TEF analyses only undergraduate teaching.

Universities are classified gold, silver or bronze. These ratings are determined by six core metrics based on teaching, academic support and progression to employment. Universities also submitted a 15-page document to a panel of higher education experts and students, which was used alongside the metrics to determine a rating.

How was the TEF calculated?

Universities opted into the TEF and provided the government with data to generate a classification. This year’s results feature more than 130 higher education institutions and alternative providers.  

An independent group of academics, students and employers assessed the universities. This assessment was based across six core metrics and a submission from each university. Institutions were encouraged to show how they involved students while preparing their submissions. Universities were then given a gold, silver or bronze award.

A rating of gold means that a university has demonstrated the highest-quality teaching standards and is consistently outstanding. The institution provides outstanding outcomes for students from all backgrounds, particularly in terms of retention and progression. The university also offers students outstanding physical and digital resources.

A silver rating means that the university is high quality and regularly exceeds the baseline quality expected of higher education institutions in the same categories listed above.

A bronze rating means that the provision of the university is of satisfactory quality. Most students will achieve good outcomes, but the provider is performing significantly below the benchmark in one or more areas.

What do the TEF results show?

The first TEF this year revealed some surprising results, as some universities that traditionally rank highly ended up with a bronze rating and some of the gold-rated universities are institutions that do not traditionally rank highly in university league tables. 

Eight of the 21 English universities from the Russell Group that took part in the TEF achieved a gold rating (University of Oxford; University of Cambridge; University of Birmingham; University of ExeterImperial College LondonUniversity of LeedsNewcastle University; and University of Nottingham). 

However, three Russell Group members – the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Southampton, and the University of Liverpool – ended up with a bronze rating. The remaining 10 universities in the Russell Group were awarded silver. 

On the other hand, universities such as Bangor University and Coventry University, which do not always reach the higher positions in traditional rankings, were also awarded gold. 

Can students use the TEF?

The TEF is effectively another resource for students, both domestic and international, to help them decide where to go to university in England.

The main difference is that the TEF is a government-stamped resource and some students may consider that to be very important when choosing a university.

As the universities are classified according to a series of metrics focused on teaching quality, the TEF offers students a resource to see which institutions excel in this area, as well as determining which universities are good for graduate prospects and student satisfaction.

There are a multitude of resources that students can use alongside the TEF, such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017, which rank universities in the UK alongside universities throughout the world.

See below for a list of the universities and three alternative providers that have been classified gold. Scroll down to access the full TEF results table. 

University  TEF Result THE World University Ranking 2016-17
Arts University Bournemouth Gold NR
Aston University Gold 351-400
Bangor University Gold 301-350
University of Bath Gold 251-300
University of Birmingham Gold 130
Bishop Grosseteste University Gold NR
University of Buckingham Gold NR
University of Cambridge Gold 4
Conservatoire for Dance and Drama Gold NR
Coventry University Gold 601-800
De Montfort University Gold 601-800
University of Derby Gold NR
University of Dundee Gold =180
Edge Hill University Gold NR
University of Essex Gold 301-350
University of Exeter Gold =126
Falmouth University Gold NR
Harper Adams University Gold NR
University of Huddersfield Gold 601-800
Imperial College London Gold 8
Keele University Gold 401-500
University of Kent Gold 301-350
Lancaster University Gold =137
University of Law Gold NR
University of Leeds Gold 133
University of Lincoln Gold 601-800
Liverpool Hope University Gold NR
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Gold NR
Loughborough University Gold 301-350
Newcastle University Gold =190
University of Northampton Gold NR
Norwich University of the Arts Gold NR
University of Nottingham Gold 147
Nottingham Trent University Gold 601-800
University of Oxford Gold 1
University of Portsmouth Gold 401-500
Robert Gordon University Gold > 800
Rose Bruford College Gold NR
Royal Academy of Music Gold NR
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London Gold NR
Royal College of Music Gold NR
Royal Northern College of Music Gold NR
Royal Veterinary College Gold 301-350
University of St Andrews Gold =110
University of Surrey Gold 251-300

NR indicates that a university is not ranked by Times Higher Education. The THE World University Rankings 2016-17 position has been included for comparison purposes only and does not influence the TEF results. 

The full list of the gold, silver and bronze universities can be found here 

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