The results of TEF 2023: recognising excellence in all parts of the sector

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) assessments are now complete for the majority of providers that took part, and today we have published their final ratings.

The results of TEF 2023: recognising excellence in all parts of the sector

Today marks a major milestone in the delivery of the TEF 2023: we have published the final ratings for the majority of providers that took part. (A number of ratings are ‘pending’ while they are finalised by the TEF panel.)

This is the culmination of months of hard work by the independent TEF panel members – students and academics from right across the sector – who brought to the process a wealth of knowledge and experience, and diverse perspectives. On behalf of the OfS I would like to thank the panel for its work, and the dedication and professionalism members have shown throughout.

In 2022 we set new regulatory requirements for quality to ensure that students receive a high quality academic experience and positive outcomes. We refer to this as our ‘regulatory baseline’ that represents the high quality that all students should expect. The TEF, which is a cyclical peer review process taking place every four years, builds on this by incentivising universities and colleges to go beyond those requirements, and deliver excellence for their students.

What do the results show?

The results show that a large majority of the 228 higher education providers that took part are performing well above the OfS’s regulatory baseline for high quality. For details, see our breakdown of the results

In summary, looking at the overall ratings:

  • 46 providers have been rated Gold for delivering an outstanding experience and outcomes for their students
  • 100 providers have been rated Silver for delivering a very high quality student experience and outcomes, and overall are performing well above our regulatory baseline
  • 29 providers have been rated Bronze for delivering very high quality – notably above our regulatory baseline – in some of the areas that were assessed.

The outcomes for a further 53 providers are ‘pending’ as they are still being considered by the TEF panel. This includes providers that made comments about their provisional outcomes of Silver, Bronze, or ‘requires improvement’.

Figure 1: The number of providers with each overall rating

Figure 1: The number of providers with each overall rating

One of the main changes introduced for the TEF 2023 is that a provider receives not only an overall rating but two ‘aspect’ ratings: one for the ‘student experience’ and one for ‘student outcomes’. The two aspect ratings provide richer information than looking at the overall ratings alone. They show more clearly where a provider excels, and where it may have room for improvement. This information will be useful to both students and providers.

Figure 2 shows how the aspect ratings create a more detailed picture. For example, looking at the 100 providers rated Silver overall:

  • 11 have a Silver rating for student experience, combined with a Gold rating for student outcomes
  • 6 have a Silver rating for student experience, combined with a Bronze rating for student outcomes.

Figure 2: The number of providers with each combination of aspect ratings, by overall rating

Figure 2: The number of providers with each combination of aspect ratings, by overall rating

Compared with the previous TEF scheme, the proportion of providers with an overall rating of Gold appears to have fallen. In the previous scheme, 35 per cent of ratings were Gold (excluding ‘provisional’ awards). So far, 20 per cent of providers in the current scheme have been rated Gold overall, although this may change when those listed as ‘pending’ are finalised.

But direct comparisons aren’t very meaningful. There have been significant changes to the methodology – and to the group of providers taking part – since the previous TEF. Also, the comparison doesn’t account for the richer information provided by the aspect ratings this time: in addition to the 20 per cent of providers rated Gold overall, a further 12 per cent so far have been rated Gold for either the student experience or student outcomes.

Outstanding teaching in all parts of a diverse sector

We can see from the results that there is teaching of the very highest quality in all parts of the higher education sector in England. Gold ratings – signifying outstanding provision – have been awarded to providers of all types (using our provider typology). There are also Gold-rated providers in all regions of England.

Table 1: The number of providers with Gold ratings by provider type

Provider type Number of providers rated Gold overall Number of providers rated Silver overall, with a Gold aspect
Low or unknown entry tariff 10 7
Medium entry tariff 7 5
High entry tariff 10 8
Specialist in creative arts subjects 9


Specialist in other subjects 3 3
Mainly Level 4/5 qualifications 7 4

Table 2: The number of providers with Gold ratings by English region

Provider region Number of providers rated Gold overall  Number of providers rated Silver overall, with a Gold aspect
East Midlands 2 3

East of England

3 1
London 12 11
North East 2 2
North West 4 4
South East 5


South West 9 2
West Midlands 5 2
Yorkshire and the Humber 4 2

What the results mean for students

The TEF has been designed to benefit students from all backgrounds by creating incentives for providers to drive up quality beyond the requirements of our regulatory baseline. The results published today shine a spotlight on teaching excellence and we expect that, alongside the more detailed information we plan to publish later in the year, they will support and encourage universities and colleges in their enhancement work.

Students were embedded throughout the TEF process – they submitted evidence about their providers and made judgements as members of the TEF panel. Their commitment has been hugely impressive, and will ensure that the TEF ratings, and the actions providers may take in response, will focus on what matters most to students.

For prospective students, the TEF ratings provide a clear signal of a provider’s excellence, giving context to the range of more detailed information that they will want to consider. The ratings will soon be easily accessible to prospective students, on the UCAS and Discover Uni websites. No doubt many providers will also want to promote their ratings, and we are supporting that through communication and branding guidance.

The breakdown of the ratings so far shows that students from all backgrounds are accessing outstanding teaching, but not in the same proportions. For example, if we look at the proportion of 2021-22 undergraduate entrants at providers rated Gold so far, they include:

  • 26 per cent of entrants aged under 21; 31 per cent of entrants aged 21 to 30 and 29 per cent of entrants aged 31+
  • 30 per cent of students from the least deprived areas; and 23 per cent of students from the most deprived areas (based on Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles)
  • 32 per cent of students with a reported disability and 27 per cent of students with no reported disability
  • 28 per cent of students from the UK and 26 per cent of international students
  • 31 per cent of white students; 25 per cent of students with mixed ethnicity; 22 per cent of Asian students; 20 per cent of black students and 17 per cent of students from other ethnicities
  • 22 per cent of students eligible for free school meals and 27 per cent of students not eligible.

This data appears to indicate some inequalities in the academic experience and outcomes of different student groups, at sector-wide level. In support of our reforms to access and participation plans, we have identified risks to students' equality of opportunity. When we have a complete set of TEF results we'll want to look at how they add more evidence to reinforce this work. 

What’s next?

The TEF panel is currently working to finalise the remaining ratings and we plan to publish these once available.

When all the assessments have concluded, we will begin to evaluate the TEF scheme, before it runs again in four years’ time. We are keen to learn lessons and to understand how well the TEF has delivered its intended purpose.

We also expect that providers will want to reflect on what they have learned through the process, and where they should focus any enhancement efforts. And student representatives may want to reflect on their submissions and future involvement.

Later this year we plan to publish a range of further information that can support providers’ improvement work – the provider and student submissions, as well as summaries of the panel’s statements setting out the reasons for the ratings awarded to each provider.

We would also like to work with providers to produce case studies and share their experiences for the benefit of the sector. This will ensure that they can learn from, and build on, the many examples of excellence and improvement identified through the TEF 2023 exercise.

Current and prospective students can view the 2023 TEF ratings of higher education providers in England and find out more information about courses on Discover Uni.


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Published 28 September 2023
Last updated 17 October 2023
17 October 2023
Added link to Discover Uni site.

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