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Working with the TEF: student views

What is the TEF?

Students invest significant amounts of time and money in higher education, and should expect a high-quality academic experience.

The TEF – Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework – aims to measure the things students care about to ensure a high quality experience. It has been designed by the Government to lead the way in rewarding and recognising:

  • excellent teaching
  • supportive environments and ways of learning
  • whether studying has enabled students to fulfil their potential (usually in employment or further study and training).

How does it work?

The TEF assesses excellence in teaching and outcomes for students in universities, colleges and higher education providers in the UK. It uses:

  • national data, to see how your college or university is doing compared to others
  • written evidence from your college or university.

The TEF is voluntary and institutions choose whether or not to take part. You can check if your institution has taken part, and see its outcome, by viewing the TEF results.

The TEF awards are decided by an independent panel of experts which consists of students, academics and employer representatives.

To be considered for a TEF award, your university or college will have first met a national set of baseline quality requirements. The TEF looks at excellence above and beyond these existing high standards.

What do the award levels mean?

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TEF in the future

The TEF currently assesses institutions as a whole. From 2020, participating universities and colleges will also receive TEF awards for each subject.

Does my college or university have a TEF award?

You can check whether your university, college or higher education provider has an award by viewing the latest TEF results.

Participation in the TEF is voluntary. Many universities, colleges and other providers of higher education in the UK have taken part.

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What does the TEF mean for me as a student?

The TEF looks at your experience of higher education as a student, and how well your university or college’s undergraduate courses set you up for employment or further study. It holds your university or college to account, helping them to focus on the things that really matter to students. And it helps prospective students decide where and what to study.

The TEF promotes excellence in teaching and outcomes for all students, from all backgrounds.

Student input is central to the TEF process:

  • student representatives help decide TEF awards as panellists and assessors 
  • universities and colleges work with students on their TEF submissions
  • students’ perceptions of teaching quality and learning environments (via the National Student Survey) are included in the TEF.

Find out more about how to get involved in the TEF

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What does the TEF mean for my university or college?

The TEF celebrates and rewards success in higher education.

The TEF allows your university or college to see how they compare to other institutions. It encourages them to focus on delivering good teaching, and helps them identify areas for improvement.

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Getting involved in the TEF

If you’re passionate about excellent teaching and a good student experience, you can make an impact by getting involved in TEF in any of the following ways:

Contribute to your institution’s TEF submission

There are several ways in which students work with their own universities and colleges, actively contributing to their TEF submissions.

Keen to get involved? Get in touch with the TEF contact at your university or college to find out more.


Apply to be a student TEF panellist or assessor

If you have recent experience of representing higher education students at a university or college, there are annual opportunities for you to apply to take part in the TEF assessment process. The next application window will be in September 2018.

This paid position is a chance for you to:

  • represent the student voice in assessing universities and colleges’ TEF submissions
  • receive full training and develop your skills
  • network with higher education experts
  • and have a positive impact on higher education for you and your fellow students.


Page last updated 3 January 2018

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