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The University of Southampton

TEF silver award recognises university’s commitment to student success

Published: 28 September 2023
Head and shoulders of woman
Jade Wadey

Teaching has been praised at the University of Southampton as it retains its ‘silver’ rating in a national teaching assessment.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) silver award reflects the university’s focus on enabling and encouraging students to excel during their time at Southampton.

The award recognises Southampton’s very high quality provision across all student groups, with some initiatives recognised as ‘outstanding’ by the TEF panel.

The news comes in the same week as the university entered the top 100 in the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings for the first time, and also the third round of the Knowledge Exchange Framework recognised the university’s continued position as a leader in business and public engagement.

The Ignite Your Success programme was singled out as ‘outstanding’ by the TEF panel. The programme provides financial, academic and career opportunities for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Since its launch in September 2020, Ignite Your Success has supported 90 students. This academic year, there are 60 student places – double that of previous years.

Recent law graduate Jade Wadey, who has faced challenges including a period of homelessness and a suspected autism diagnosis, was sponsored by Ignite throughout her time at the university. She won an Ignite scholarship which enabled her to become the first person in her family to go to university.

“I have been on the waiting list for assessment for suspected autism spectrum disorder for two years, so some aspects of my degree were difficult because of that – but I had mentoring support through Ignite which really helped,” she explained. “I have struggled at times to work at the same capacity as others around me, and find it hard to focus.”  

Jade, 21, grew up in West Sussex but, at the age of 14, found herself homeless with her disabled mum and sister.

Now a law graduate and living in Southampton, Jade is embarking on her legal practice qualification and has a training contract lined up with commercial law firm Womble Bond Dickinson in Southampton.

About Ignite, Jade said: “It changed my life. Support through Ignite meant I could buy clothes for interviews, it’s given me practical skills for interviews, and it’s meant I can pursue a career in a more self-respecting way. It’s been really empowering.”

Other initiatives at the University of Southampton that were singled out for praise by the TEF panel include:

  • Consultation Weeks, when students can receive fresh feedback on any piece of work submitted throughout their degree
  • An emphasis on experience-led education that includes field trips and industry visits
  • Visiting professor schemes where external experts work with Southampton students
  • Partnerships with industry that enhance educational programmes
  • Tailored support for students, including personalised learning plans for disabled students, mentorships and transition support for students from care
  • A 24/7 Student Hub as a first point of contact for support

The university also has nine staff who have been awarded prestigious National Teaching Fellowships – including two who won the fellowships last month – in recognition of excellent teaching.   

Professor Deborah Gill, Vice-President for Education and Student Experience, said: “We are delighted with our TEF silver award, which recognises the commitment and hard work of our staff as well as the success of the many programmes and initiatives we have in place to ensure students thrive here.

“We proactively collaborate across the university for better student outcomes, and one example of this was our response to the COVID19 pandemic. This saw all levels of the institution, along with students and the Students’ Union, come together to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on assessments by implementing a No Detriment Policy. We also, for example, refunded halls of residence fees to students who couldn’t access their accommodation due to the pandemic, and set up a new support fund to help with access to computers for online learning.”

The TEF was developed by the Department for Education and is carried out by the Office for Students to recognise excellent teaching in higher education by rating providers as gold, silver or bronze. The ratings are judged by an independent panel of students, academics and other experts.

The University of Southampton’s TEF submission and award for 2023 is available on the Office for Students website.  

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