Top research-intensive universities are among those achieving the lowest rating in the first results of the Teaching Excellence Framework – which rates teaching quality and student outcomes at universities and is believed to be the first scheme of its kind globally.
Among universities failing to achieve a top rating were 13 out of 21 of the elite Russell Group research-intensive universities which took part. Three of them were given the lowest rating (Liverpool, London School of Economics and Political Science and Southampton).
Other high-profile universities with the lowest rating were Goldsmiths college and the School of Oriental and African Studies or SOAS.
The results and the underlying evidence are intended to help students who are thinking about applying to university or college for autumn 2018, and to encourage teaching and learning excellence across the United Kingdom.
The TEF was introduced by the government to build evidence about the performance of the UK’s world-class higher education sector, complementing the existing Research Excellence Framework with an analysis of teaching and learning outcomes.
The system also potentially will fill a gap left by international university rankings whose metrics favour research quality over teaching quality.
According to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, by introducing the TEF, the UK is leading the way internationally in recognising and rewarding teaching excellence.
The Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said: “The Teaching Excellence Framework is refocusing the sector’s attention on teaching – putting in place incentives that will raise standards across the sector and giving teaching the same status as research.”
He said the results will help students choose which university or college to study at.
Prof. Chris Husbands, chair of the TEF assessment panel and Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, described it as an “ambitious” and “ground-breaking” assessment.
He said: “The Teaching Excellence Framework results offer – for the first time – an overview of teaching excellence across the entire UK higher education sector.
“Alongside the headline results, we are publishing all the data and submissions, and statements of the assessors’ findings. Taken together, this is a set of material on teaching excellence which goes further than has been possible for any other university system in the world.”
A total of 295 universities, colleges and alternative providers of higher education voluntarily took part in the initial TEF. Each provider was rated gold, silver or bronze, or received a provisional award where there was not enough data for a full assessment.
In the assessment, 59 providers were rated gold, 116 were rated silver and 56 were rated bronze.
Excluding those with provisional ratings, a gold award was achieved by 26 per cent of participants, silver by 50 per cent and bronze by 24 per cent.
The TEF awards were decided by an independent panel of experts including academics, students and employer representatives. Drawing on national data, and evidence submitted by each university or college, TEF measures teaching excellence in three key areas-teaching quality, learning environment and student outcomes.
The metrics measure student satisfaction, retention, and progression to employment. The metrics take account of differences in student characteristics, entry qualifications and subjects studied. This allowed the assessors to judge teaching excellence and outcomes for the specific students taught in each university or college.
Madeleine Atkins, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said the TEF measures the things that students themselves say they care about.
“The UK already has a high bar for quality and standards, which all universities and colleges must meet. But the TEF judges excellence above and beyond this, clearly showing the highest levels across the sector,” she said.