Teaching Excellence Framework

On Friday 6th November, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published its Higher Education Green Paper, “Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice”. Fulfilling our Potential outlines a series of reforms that BIS states will “boost teaching standards, support more people into university from disadvantaged backgrounds, and ensure better value for money and employment prospects for students”, including details of the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Here we highlight the aspects relevant to BES members and on which we are beginning to develop our response to the consultation, to be submitted via the Royal Society of Biology and independently as the BES.  Please note that text aims to reflect the tone of the paper itself and is not our opinion of what we think the TEF will achieve.

  • Providers of HE should be open to employer and learned society involvement in curricula design; presumably this is BIS supporting increased accreditation of courses.
  • There needs to be a rebalancing of the “pull between teaching and research” although the paper seeks to affirm that incentives to improve teaching should not be at the expense of research.
  • TEF results should be used by students to inform their choice of HEI, and employers should be able to consider such results in their recruitment.
  • Making it easier for new providers to enter the market who can provide programmes that are more attractive to hard to reach communities and groups not currently well served.
  • TEF is designed to encourage excellent teaching for all students and:
    • Build a culture where teaching and research are equal;
    • Provide accessible information to judge teaching quality;
    • Recognise HEIs that do most to welcome students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • TEF should change HEIs behaviour; successful HEIs will be rewarded by being able to raise tuition fees. Those that do not meet required teaching standards will succumb to market forces and leave the sector.
  • TEF will evolve over time with more metrics added year on year for a phased implementation.
  • In year 1: “Level 1 TEF” will be awarded to those HEIs with a current successful QA review, this will last for three years and allows HEIs to raise tuition fees in line with inflation from 2017/18.
  • In year 2: Higher levels of TEF can be awarded following a successful assessment.  HEIs would apply for assessment and levels achieved would last for up to three years, and could result in fee caps, loan cap uplifts or other incentives

Much of the consultation focuses on whether the proposals will deliver the aspirations for social mobility and teaching quality and we would be grateful for members to provide comments as we develop our response.

You can read further comment from the Times Higher Education Supplement, WONKHE, The Independent, HEFCE, The Guardian,

Get involved

Summary of questions:  please do feel free to draft any comments in this word document summarising the main consultation questions and email back to Karen@britishecologicalsociety.org

If you’re attending the Annual Meeting we will be holding a meeting on Monday 14th December at the EICC,  5.15 pm in Cromdale Hall to discuss any comments you may have and present our initial draft response.  Please do come along.