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 was introduced by the government in 2017 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. Last year, in the first year of the TEF, more than 130 higher education institutions and alternative providers applied and were ranked. This year for 2018, less than 30 higher education institutions applied or reapplied for the 2018 ranking.
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. There were some tweaks to the methodology for the 2018 table, with the weighting placed on results of the National Student Survey being halved and a supplementary metric on graduate earnings introduced.
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?
For some universities, such as the University of Liverpool and the University of Southampton, a resubmission was beneficial as they managed to increase their score from a bronze rating to a silver rating this year.
However, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the only other Russell Group university to receive a bronze rating last year chose not to reapply this year. Two other Russell Group members that got silver last year, Durham University and the University of York, were able to achieve a gold rating this year, through reapplying.
However, the University of Warwick was unable to improve on last year's score and was again awarded a silver rating, while Soas, University of London maintained it's bronze level rating from last year too. (Author's edit: 31 October 2018 - Soas's rating was changed to silver following an appeal of the results).
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 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 2018, which rank universities in the UK alongside universities throughout the world.
See below the 2018 and 2017 TEF results for universities and alternative providers with university status.