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Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF)

About the TEF

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 publication of the outcomes of next TEF exercise (anticipated by the OfS to be in early 2023). 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 the review have been published (see report), and further information is awaited from the OfS on the future design of the TEF. 

Further information on the TEF is available on the OfS website.