The TEF - a guide for students

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) encourages universities and colleges to improve and deliver excellence in teaching, learning and student outcomes.

What is the TEF?

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a UK-wide scheme run by the OfS that aims to encourage universities and colleges to improve and deliver excellence in the areas that students care about the most: teaching, learning and achieving positive outcomes from their studies.

The TEF does this by assessing and rating universities and colleges for excellence above a set of minimum requirements for quality and standards.

The assessment focuses on how far each university or college delivers an excellent experience and outcomes for its mix of undergraduate students and courses.

The TEF ratings help to:

  • shine a spotlight on the quality of courses
  • inform student choice
  • encourage universities and colleges to make improvements to retain or improve their rating in future.

See the TEF 2023 ratings

We’ll make the ratings available on the OfS Register and Discover Uni, and we’re working with other student information sites to ensure TEF ratings are available to support applicants with their course choices.

Which universities and colleges take part in the TEF?

228 universities and colleges in England took part in TEF 2023.

This includes all 186 of the universities and colleges in England with 500 or more undergrads, which were required to participate.

It also includes 42 universities and colleges with fewer than 500 undergrads, that took part voluntarily.

What do the TEF ratings mean?

Universities and colleges that took part in the TEF 2023 received an overall rating as well as a rating for each of the two ‘aspects’ that were assessed: the student experience aspect and the student outcomes aspect. 

There are three rating categories – Bronze, Silver and Gold – which represent increasing levels of excellence:

TEF Gold icon


The student experience and student outcomes are typically outstanding.

TEF Silver icon


The student experience and student outcomes are typically very high quality.

TEF Bronze icon


The student experience and student outcomes are typically high quality, and there are some very high-quality features.

A university or college receives a lower category of 'requires improvement' if it has not shown enough evidence of excellence above our minimum quality requirements.

TEF Requires improvement icon

Requires improvement

The provider was assessed in the TEF and no rating was awarded. Improvement is required for a TEF rating.

How were the TEF ratings decided?

TEF ratings were decided by the independent TEF panel, which is made up of academics and students who are experts in learning and teaching.

The evidence considered by the TEF panel includes:

  • written evidence provided by the university or college (the provider submission)
  • optional evidence provided by the university or college's students, through a single independent student submission coordinated by a nominated student contact
  • Data from the National Student Survey (NSS) and other sources. The NSS is an annual survey of final-year higher education students which gathers students’ opinions on the quality of their courses. TEF also uses data on how many students continue and complete their courses, and what students go on to do.

When assessing each ‘aspect’ of the TEF (the student experience and student outcomes), the TEF panel looked for specific things. We call these ‘features of excellence’. 

After awarding a rating for each aspect the panel then decided the overall rating. If the university or college received the same rating for the two aspects, the overall rating would be the same. If it received different ratings for each aspect, the panel made an overall ‘best fit’ decision, considering all of the evidence. 

How can students use the TEF ratings?

Students can use TEF ratings, which provide a clear signal of a university or college's excellence, alongside the range of other information they will want to consider when deciding what and where to study. 

The additional information we publish alongside the ratings includes a summary panel statement which students can use to understand which features of the student experience and student outcomes were judged to be excellent and on what basis.  

Published 20 January 2022
Last updated 28 September 2023
28 September 2023
Updated to reflect publication of the TEF 2023 ratings.
07 October 2022
Page updated with information about the TEF 2023 scheme
26 July 2022
Link to TEF consultation responses and decisions added
26 May 2022
Minor changes to reflect that the TEF consultation has now closed. Link also added to apply for the TEF panel.

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