The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) conducted a Higher Education Review of the University (then University Campus Suffolk) in November 2014. The final report is available on the QAA website, and outlines how the University meets all expectations and presents a low risk in relation to all aspects of the UK Quality Code. The review identified the following features of good practice:
- The active involvement of employers in the design, approval, review and delivery of programmes
- The curriculum-based employability skills and extra-curricular work experience opportunities that have a positive impact on student learning.
The report included three recommendations relating to:
- the Joint Academic Committee's involvement in managing academic standards and quality on taught provision delivered at the Learning Network Centres
- the breadth of subject and supervisory expertise on the Postgraduate Research Sub-Committee
- updating of published information in the context of institutional change.
The University produced an action plan in response to the review, which outlined how the three recommendations had been addressed.
The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) is a government initiative to assess excellence in undergraduate teaching within the higher education sector, including how well institutions ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.
The TEF builds on existing systems to ensure that institutions meet national quality standards, by measuring excellence in addition to these requirements. The TEF process is managed by the Office for Students (OfS), with engagement in the TEF being a condition of ongoing OfS registration.
The introduction of the TEF reflects a move to a more data-driven approach to evaluating higher education providers. The TEF metrics that providers have been judged upon are drawn from three sources:
- National Student Survey (NSS) results
- HESA non-continuation rates (the proportion of students who are no longer in higher education after one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study)
- Graduate destination data (via the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DHLE) survey)
Performance is also judged on the basis of written submissions generated by the provider and contextual information (for example on entry qualifications and characteristics of students and the subjects studied).
The University of Suffolk TEF rating
The University of Suffolk obtained a bronze TEF award in 2017, which remains valid until 2021. A bronze award signifies that the University delivers teaching, learning and outcomes for its students that meet rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.
The University aims to be a beacon of excellence, and we are working hard with external stakeholders to raise aspiration and achievement across the county and ensure that our courses meet employer needs. We are proud of the diverse and inclusive mix of students who study at the University, including a high proportion of students from groups that are under-represented in the higher education sector. HESA performance indicators (2016-17 to 2017-18) show that we rank third amongst English higher education institutions in terms of the high proportion of students from low participation neighbourhoods.
Future development of the TEF
The TEF has operated to date at provider level, but subject level pilot exercises took place in 2017-18 and 2018-19 (with the University of Suffolk involved in the second pilot). During 2018-19, an independent review of the TEF was led by Dame Shirley Pearce. The outcomes of this review have been published, and we await further news from the Office for Students on the future design of the TEF.
Further information on the TEF is available on the OfS website.