Today sees the release of Universities UK's report on TEF year 2. It presents a review of outcomes and the results from a survey of Universities UK members on the impact and cost of submission to the exercise. The implications of these findings, as we head towards TEF year 3, subject-level pilots and the anticipated independent review, are also considered in this report.
The concerns about how excellence is measured highlight the need to develop metrics that the sector and others believe represent teaching excellence. Learning gain was the favourite choice among respondents to our survey with 65% believing it should be prioritised for development. 43% would prioritise a teaching qualifications measure with much more limited support for the inclusion of Longitudinal Education Outcomes data (27%) and very limited support for a teaching intensity measure (12%). These results are timely as Longitudinal Education Outcomes data is likely to be included in TEF Year 3 as the supplementary metric and a teaching intensity measure is being developed alongside the subject-level pilots.
Key questions raised for the development of subject-level TEF include the impact of increased suppression of metrics and how judgments are made in the absence data, the comparability of subject groupings and the increase in cost and complexity of submissions and assessment.
If the TEF is to gain long-term credibility and become a useful tool for the sector our findings suggest that four aspects of the exercise must be considered. These are the establishment of long-term design principles and future governance arrangements, the phasing of changes to the framework and its relationship with quality assessment.
The next 18 months represent an important period for shaping the future development of the TEF - with the piloting of the subject-level exercise due to commence, announcement of the year three specification imminent and an independent review likely to happen in 18-19. This report suggests that in its first full pilot year the TEF has been embraced by the sector as a fair and robust exercise but that work remains to ensure that it is measuring true aspects of teaching excellence.