What is the TEF?

The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) is a national exercise, introduced by the government in England. It assesses excellence in teaching at universities and colleges, and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

The results can help those considering higher education choose where to apply.

There are systems in place to help ensure that all UK colleges and universities meet national quality standards. The TEF looks at what they are doing in addition to these standards, and awards them gold, silver or bronze for excellence.

The TEF process is managed by the Office for Students, and ratings are judged by an independent panel of students, academics and other experts.

Students invest significant amounts of time and money in higher education, and should expect a high quality academic experience. The TEF measures the things students care about: teaching, learning and what students go on to do afterwards.

As well as helping prospective students to choose where to study, the TEF encourages universities and colleges to work with their students to develop an even better student experience for all.

The TEF provides information about the quality, environment and outcomes of teaching at a wide range of universities and colleges.

The results are published on the UCAS, Unistats and Office for Students websites. As well as the gold, silver and bronze ratings, you can find:

  • written submissions from universities and colleges
  • data on student satisfaction, employment outcomes, and how many students continue their studies from one year to the next
  • statements from the assessment panel, giving reasons for awarding a bronze, silver or gold TEF rating to a university or college.

Prospective students can use the ratings - alongside other sources of information, advice and guidance - to decide where to apply to study.   

Participation is currently voluntary and around 300 universities and colleges currently hold a TEF award. See all participating universities and colleges and their TEF awards.

The TEF was developed by the Department for Education in England. Universities and colleges in England that register with the Office for Students will have to take part in the TEF in future.

Universities and colleges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can also choose to participate.

Awards can last for up to three years, but universities and colleges can apply annually for a TEF award.

To take part, UK universities and colleges must first meet the existing quality standards of their home nation. The TEF measures excellence in addition to these requirements. You can find out more about them here:

The approach to quality assessment in England

The Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework

The Quality Assessment Framework for Wales

The approach to quality assessment in Northern Ireland

A provider taking part in the TEF is awarded:

  • gold for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It’s of the highest quality found in the UK
  • silver for delivering high quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education
  • bronze for delivering teaching, learning and outcomes for its students that meet rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.

Provisional awards are given to participating providers that meet national quality requirements, but do not yet have sufficient data to be fully assessed.

To be eligible to take part a provider must meet rigorous national quality requirements for higher education. The TEF measures excellence in addition to these requirements. You can find out more about the national quality requirements here:

TEF awards cover undergraduate provision.

The awards are judged by an independent panel of students, academics and other experts.

The TEF assessment uses official data combined with a detailed statement from each university or college to arrive at the final rating.

The data includes how many students continue their course from one year to the next, graduate-level employment outcomes, and students’ views about their experience gathered in the annual National Student Survey.

The TEF data takes into account the entry qualifications and characteristics of students, and the subjects studied, at each university or college. These can be very different and the assessment is based on what each college or university achieves for its particular students within this context.

England

Publicly funded universities and colleges in England with a TEF award may charge up to the higher maximum tuition fee for 2018 entrants. The maximum tuition fee they can charge for a full-time course is £9,250 per year.

Those without a TEF award can charge a maximum of £9,000 per year. The government will announce maximum fees for the academic year 2019-20 in due course.

Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland

Holding a TEF award has no effect on the tuition fees that universities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can charge. 

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