OfS announces new ‘requires improvement’ TEF rating

The University and College Union said the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework has always been “unfit for purpose”

The Office for Students has revealed plans to introduce a “requires improvement” rating to the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF).

The regulator has put the plans to consultation – alongside its plans to institute new minimum thresholds on student outcomes.

Undergraduate teaching providers in England would be assessed every four years by an “expert panel” for one of the four TEF awards. Gold, silver and bronze awards are to be joined by a fourth: “requires improvement”. This new badge determines institutions where the panel cannot identify sufficient excellence.

“Changes to the TEF will help students identify the highest quality courses, inform their study choices and further improve the reputation of those universities offering their students excellent teaching and outcomes,” said Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS.

University and College Union general secretary, Jo Grady, said: “TEF has always been unfit for purpose and hugely unpopular with staff, and these proposals will do nothing to change that. If anything, the government seems determined to make the TEF even more damaging through the introduction of a ‘requires improvement’ category.”

Vanessa Wilson, CEO of University Alliance, said: “The UK’s higher education sector is globally recognised… Protecting that reputation is an absolute priority.

“It is imperative, however, that any new measures for assuring the quality of UK higher education focus on measures of quality that are within the control of higher education providers.”

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