What will the TEF mean for Swansea University, subject areas and individuals?

Timescales, TEF Levels, and TEFs 1, 2 and 3

The Teaching Excellence Framework is quite a complicated animal to get your head around. There are a range of levels, a number of metrics as well as an iterative process with additional elements being added in as we go forwards. The lack of certainty over the position for Wales creates further complexity. Unpicking what this will mean for us at a university level and then down to college and subject level is quite time consuming. Hopefully this post should give a brief overview of what we are expecting.

TEF cover

In terms of the TEF ratings there are going to be 3 levels – Meets Expectations, Excellent and Outstanding. Although each application will be assessed on its own merit the government will be asking the TEF panel to bear in mind a desired distribution of HEIs in these categories, with approximately 20% receiving Meets Expectations, 50-60% receiving Excellent and 20-30% Outstanding. These levels will be indicators of teaching quality and doubtless used by students in their choice of institution, funding bodies in deciding how to allocate resources and possibly league tables in their calculations. As an institution we will need an Outstanding TEF rating which will be a competitive group to get into.

There are three iterations of the Teaching Excellence Framework set out in the White Paper – TEFs 1, 2 and 3.

TEF 1 is relatively straightforward – all institutions with a positive quality review outcome such as our excellent 2014 QAA Institutional Review will receive a Meets Expectations rating following application which will apply in the 2017-18 academic year. In line with this, some English universities have already told their prospective students entering in September 2017 to expect to pay £9,250 (an increase of 2.8% in line with inflation as TEF would allow). At this point, we don’t expect HEFCW will allow Welsh institutions to be able to do the same.

TEF 2 will be the first real assessment. Institutions need to submit their applications by December 2016 and the ratings will apply for 2018/19. Further inflationary fee increases could apply from this point. Whether these will apply in Wales is still unknown. TEF 2 is an institutional level assessment looking at a range of benchmarked metrics which are supported by further information provided by each institution. A bit more about this later.

The dates for TEF 3 are still to be determined but will include additional metrics and subject level assessments.

The application is split into 3 areas:

  • Teaching Quality
  • Learning Environment
  • Student Outcomes and Learning Gain

There are metrics in each area as well as a list of the sorts of information they expect us to provide in our supporting narrative. In Teaching Quality, the metrics are the Teaching and Assessment and Feedback results from the NSS; for Learning Resources it is the Academic Support questions from NSS alongside a non-continuation indicator based on the current HESA Performance Indicator. For Student Outcomes and Learning Gain the initial metric is the DLHE employment indicator.  Metrics are going to be provided to us by HEFCE/HEFCW and benchmarked by subject mix as well as a number of demographic factors.

TEF
The TEF will be metric led; while there is a supporting narrative, assessment panels will be guided to make a decision based on the metrics. From the information included above you can see that the TEF is very heavily influenced by the NSS. 3 of the 5 metrics are part of the NSS. This will give further importance to student satisfaction, which will need to remain a priority for all UK universities. The TEF consultation has been grappling with questions about how to measure teaching quality and we expect to see some form of value added measure in the future.  Student satisfaction with teaching is to a great extent being used here as a proxy for teaching quality.

A lengthy list of evidence has been provided for inclusion in the supporting narrative across the three areas. This includes how the institution addresses or uses student feedback, addressing grade inflation, reward and recognition for teaching, research-led teaching, investment in teaching infrastructure, retention, Grade Point average, grade inflation etc… Further information can be found on pages 29 and 30 of the consultation document. We welcome input to the TEF supporting narrative and will make drafts available for comment.

 

What further changes can we expect from TEF3? Firstly, there will be changes to the DLHE measure aligned with the move to the new DLHE that is currently underway. Secondly we will see a move to subject level assessments. Exactly how these will be implemented in terms of submission, assessment and timescales is still to be decided.

Moving forwards what can we expect from the new TEF environment then? And what will this mean for subject areas and individual teachers?  There will be a renewed focus on teaching excellence and also an increased scrutiny of student satisfaction and particularly satisfaction with teaching. We won’t be seeing TEF going down to the individual level as we do with REF but we will be seeing assessments at a subject level. So subject areas will go through assessment processes for research and for teaching. In both cases we will want to be outstanding. Whilst league tables have used many of these metrics previously in their calculations the official nature of the TEF will likely see a greater emphasis on the importance of TEF ratings alongside REF ratings in university and subject area reputations. This will give students and funders the opportunity to identify and distinguish teaching excellence and is likely to drive sector, institutional and subject level improvement and reviews of teaching practices, support and assessment.

At Swansea we have strong student satisfaction, DLHE results and retention rates which we will need to maintain and enhance. At subject level, like all institutions we have some areas which do not perform as strongly. When we move to subject level TEF assessments it will be really important to ensure we have strong outcomes for all subject areas. Our ability to recruit students, attract funding and maintain our reputation will depend upon it.

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  1. Pingback: TEF 2 Progress – Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching

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