Teaching excellence: the student perspective
As the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) moves into its third year, universities and students are becoming more familiar with the government’s new university rating system. With the year 2 ratings released in June 2017, the majority of HE providers in the UK now have a Gold, Silver, or Bronze TEF rating.
A consortium of students’ unions have come together to better understand what students across the UK think of TEF and of ‘teaching excellence’. Together with Trendence UK, they have conducted the UK’s largest research project to date on students’ views of the TEF metrics.
Findings at a glance:
• There is strong support amongst students for a government exercise that encourages excellence in teaching (84% agree).
• Students believe that this should encompass a number of factors related to the teaching and learning environment not currently in TEF (86% IT, 93% library, course resources 94%).
• Students are in favour of their feedback being used – such as the opportunity to give direct feedback to teachers/tutors/lecturers (59%) or an end of year evaluation form (56%). With the National Student Survey (NSS) weighting halved in TEF year 3, students’ feedback will be a significantly less important component of the TEF ratings.
• When we asked students to tell us which factors most demonstrate that a university has excellent teaching, the quality of the teaching/teachers themselves was the #1 factor, while graduate employment came at the bottom of the list (#7).
• When considering factors that indicate that a university has excellent teaching, students are over three times less likely to identify high graduate earnings when compared to access to resources.
• While 68% of students agree that universities should be held to account for teaching ‘not good enough to enable them to succeed’, only 34% agree they should be held to account if graduate jobs ratings are poor, and just 18% agree they should be held to account if students drop out.
• While only around 1 in 5 disagree with “Gold, Silver, Bronze” rankings, 3 in 5 don’t agree that student fees should be linked to the rating of the university.
• 50% of students would have reconsidered or not applied to their University if they had known it was rated “Bronze”.
• 6% of students would have reconsidered or not applied to their University if they had known it was rated “Gold”.
• 11% of students from an ethnic minority background say that they would have reconsidered applying or not applied to their university if it had been rated Gold, compared to only 5% of white ethnicity students.
• Similar proportions would have reconsidered or not applied if the same judgements were levied at course level.
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