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What is the TEF and how does it affect you?

Jun 26, 2017

What is the TEF and how does it affect you?New government ratings for teaching quality at university are out now. Find out they work and how you can use them.

What is the TEF?

TEF stands for 'Teaching Excellence Framework'. It's a government scheme for judging how good the teaching is at different nuiversities in the UK. Universities don't have to take part: most universities in England and Wales have joined, while most in Scotland and Northern Ireland haven't.

How does the TEF work?

The results of the TEF are based on information including:

  • What students say about their university in the National Student Survey
  • How many students leave their course early
  • The jobs or further study that graduates end up in
  • Whether these things vary by students' gender, age, ethnicity and other characteristics

Unlike a league table, the universities aren't ranked. Instead, each university can get a Bronze, Silver or Gold award. Any university that meets the national quality requirements will get at least a Bronze.

(Some universities have a 'pending' rating instead, because not all of the information was available.)

How can I use the TEF?

You can see all the results of the TEF online.

Remember: although the TEF is an 'official' rating, that doesn't mean it's better or more useful than other ways of finding out about universities. Other rating systems might look at things that the TEF doesn't cover – and no rating can tell you everything you need to know about a university.

As well as comparing information from different sources, it's important to think about what matters to you. This will include both academic things like course content and teaching quality, and other considerations like location and facilities.

Find out more about choosing a university and using league tables.

Does the TEF affect tuition fees?

The government has said that the TEF will be used to decide which universities can increase their fees. However, full plans haven't been confirmed yet. To begin with, it's likely that any university that takes part in the TEF will be able to increase fees in line with inflation. Later, universities with higher ratings may be able to charge more, but this should not happen until 2020.

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