2018 TEF awards highlight excellence across all areas of the higher education sector

2018 TEF results published - focusing on excellence in teaching and student outcomes across higher education

The results of this year’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) assessments, announced today, provide further evidence of the quality of teaching and student outcomes across UK higher education.

In the second year of the TEF awards, an increasingly diverse range of universities and colleges are represented in the exercise, which encourages a greater focus on teaching and learning excellence in higher education.

The TEF was introduced by the government in England to encourage higher education providers to work with their students to identify, pursue and maintain excellence in teaching and learning outcomes, complementing the existing assessment system for research.

The TEF awards are decided by an independent panel of experts comprising students and academics. Drawing on national data combined with evidence submitted by each university or college, the TEF measures excellence in three areas: teaching quality, the learning environment, and the educational and professional outcomes achieved by students.

The TEF awards give higher education providers a rating of gold, silver or bronze – or a provisional award where there is not enough data for a full assessment.

Universities and colleges in all parts of the UK may choose to take part in the TEF; a total of 296 higher education providers of all types currently have a TEF award. This includes 33 new entrants which have chosen to take part for the first time this year.

Following this year’s assessments 73 providers are rated gold, 134 are rated silver and 62 are rated bronze. A further 27 universities and colleges have a rating of provisional.

This means that excluding those with provisional ratings, a gold award has been achieved by 27 per cent of participants, silver by 50 per cent and bronze by 23 per cent.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

'The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) is part of our drive to shine a light on the high standard of teaching at our universities. TEF rightly highlights the exceptional quality that puts many UK universities among the best in the world and will drive up standards of teaching in all HE providers, as well as putting clear information in the hands of students.

'This programme is specifically created in the interest of students, parents, employers and taxpayers to ensure we are equipping the next generation for success through excellent teaching. As we announced earlier in the year, we are going even further with the new subject-level TEF, which will give students more information than ever before and allow them to drill down and compare universities by subject.'

Professor Chris Husbands, Chair of the TEF assessment panel and Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said:

‘The Teaching Excellence Framework looks further than the already rigorous standards for higher education. Now in its second year of awards, the TEF continues to shine a light on excellence, which the assessment panel has again found in higher education providers of all types.’

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the Office for Students, said:

‘The TEF is becoming firmly established, with more universities and colleges applying for a rating this year. It is part of our focus on ensuring that all students, whatever their background, have a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.’

The latest TEF results, the award summaries and the evidence used in the assessments can be found at www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/teaching/tef-outcomes/. TEF results will also be shown on the UCAS and Unistats websites.

Further information

  • The TEF recognises excellent teaching and learning across the UK’s world-class higher education sector. In order to be considered for a TEF rating, higher education providers have to meet demanding national quality requirements. The TEF measures excellence above and beyond this.
  • The full list of ratings for each higher education provider is published at officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/teaching/tef-outcomes/ together with the award summaries, underlying metrics and the submissions provided in support of the assessments.
  • The TEF measures teaching excellence in three key areas:
    • Teaching quality: teaching that stimulates and challenges students, and maximises their engagement with their studies.
    • Learning environment: the effectiveness of resources and activities (such as libraries, laboratories and work experience) which support learning and improve retention, progression and attainment.
    • Student outcomes: the extent to which all students achieve their educational and professional goals, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • The metrics measure student satisfaction, retention, and progression to employment. The assessments take account of differences in student characteristics, entry qualifications and subjects studied. This allows the assessors to judge teaching excellence and outcomes for the specific students taught in each university or college.
  • Participation in the TEF is voluntary. The following ratings may be awarded to a higher education provider:
    • Gold for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is 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
    • Providers that meet rigorous national quality requirements but which do not yet have sufficient data to be fully assessed may opt-in for a provisional award.
  • A TEF award is valid for up to three years. Many of the current holders received their award in 2017. The current 296 award holders can be broken down as follows:


Kept 2017 award

Had a valid award from 2017 and reapplied

Had an expiring award from 2017 and reapplied

New applicants for 2018

Current full award holders





Current provisional award  holders










  • 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.
  • For universities and colleges in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, holding a TEF award has no effect on the tuition fees that universities that they can charge.
  • For more information on the TEF visit www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/teaching/what-is-the-tef/
  • TEF results are included in Unistats – https://unistats.ac.uk/ – the official website for comparing data on UK higher education providers.

This page was updated on 7 June 2018 to correct transposed figures.

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