A Teaching Excellence Framework is being developed by the government to assess the quality of teaching at different institutions. Universities that do well will be allowed to increase their fees above £9k.
Why is it introduced?
When the fee cap was raised in 2010, the government hoped that it would create a market, where the most elite universities can charge more. This hasn’t happened, as almost all courses raised their fees to £9k to make up for the cuts in public funding. TEF is designed to artificially introduce competition between HE providers and lead to variable fees.
But what does “good teaching” mean?
TEF levels (corresponding to different levels of fees) will be awarded by a “panel of experts,” using available data and additional information provided by institutions. The criteria that will be used are still unspecified, but some of the suggested metrics include:
Employment rates and graduate earnings
One of the goals of TEF is making sure that universities provide the skills that businesses want. TEF will look into employment statistics, and institutions that produce the most employable and highest paid graduates will be rewarded.
Big business having a say in curriculum development.
Less emphasis on critical thinking, more on pleasing bosses.
Mass closures of arts and humanities courses.
Every year, graduating students receive a National Student Survey where they can rate their university experience.
Even more incentives for universities to game the system, buy positive feedback and focus more on NSS metrics than real student issues.
Pitting students against staff; penalising academics who don’t produce high NSS scores.
Perverse incentives: if students score their institution highly, fees will rise.
TEF will take into account the number of student from disadvantaged backgrounds and their outcomes.
This is great, but…
At the same time, the government is raising fees, cutting FE and scrapping grants for the poorest students. Now universities will be forced to make up for where the government has failed.
Subjective metrics like “learning environment” and “appropriate pedagogical approaches”
Impossible to measure
Less academic freedom