The TEFinitive Guide

To the Teaching Excellence Framework

Where did it come from?

The TEF is part of the Higher Education and Research Bill which has been hotly debated in the House of Commons over the past year. It aims to achieve four key points in the HE sector:

  1. Increase the quality of University Institutions
  2. Increase the quality of teaching standards across the University
  3. Increase social mobility and diversity in University Institutions
  4. Restructure how Universities receive funding for research

Where does the TEF fit in?

The TEF is linked to the second point listed above and is being introduced to improve the quality of teaching by changing the criteria Universities are judged on. Depending on how well a University performs will determine which award they will receive; Bronze, Silver or Gold. These criteria can affect how much a University can charge for tuition with better performing Universities being able to increase fees.

What are the criteria?

There are six core metrics that will be the most deciding factors:

  • Teaching on my course
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Academic Support
  • Non-continuation (retention)
  • Employment or further study
  • Highly skilled-employment or further study

Each of these areas will be measured through different means including the National Student Survey, Higher Education Statistics Agency data and the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey.  

There are also ‘splits’ which look at the core areas in relation to gender, ethnicity, age and disability to name a few.  The emphasis on these metrics will put more pressure on Universities to support students that can often be at a disadvantage in Higher Education.

Will I have to pay more?

This is an awkward question to answer. If you attend a Gold or Silver rated University you will be paying more but only due to inflation, the actual cash value will stay the same; £9000 at the 2016 value of the pound. If you attend an institution without a TEF award you will still be paying £9000 but the actual cash value of that in 2021 would be £7696 at the 2016 value of the pound. For Universities to keep these prices however, they need to consistently provide a high quality academic experience as a drop in their TEF award means a drop in fees.

Below are two tables, the first showing how the fees would look without inflation at 2016s value of the pound, the second showing the fees with inflation.

Real value of fees projection 2016-2021, in 2016 £s


Cash value of fees projection 2016-2021

*APA stands for Access and Progression Agreement. Source: WonkHE

So what happens now?

Universities are currently submitting their applications for the TEF. The Students’ Union will have input into the University’s submission and will be a critical partner in making sure their submission is an honest reflection. Once their application is received, the University of Wolverhampton will be evaluated on the data they have supplied and the result will be decided by a panel.

For more information on the TEF please click any of the links below:

Inflation, TEF and tuition fees continue a complex dance

Fun with flags: how metrics will work in TEF outcomes

Could TEF be good news for disabled students?

Busting five common myths about the TEF

UCAS: The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

HEFCE: TEF Student Leaflet