The University of Southampton

Teaching Excellence Framework statement

Latest news regarding the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) award.

In June 2017, we received a Bronze award in the pilot year of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) initiating the following University response:

Vice President (Education)

Alex Neill, Vice President (Education) said:

"We are happy that the TEF panel has endorsed the value added by our focus on student success. But we are disappointed by a Bronze outcome as we believe that we made a compelling case for a higher award, and we have already signalled our intention to appeal this decision. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but we believe it is crucial, not least for the future credibility of the TEF exercise, that any perceived inconsistencies in these results are challenged.

"This is the pilot year for the TEF and it is clear from our result, and the results of others in the sector, that there are ongoing questions about the transparency, consistency and objectivity of the process that will need to be addressed ahead if the TEF is to have credibility as a true reflection of the teaching environment of a university."

President and Vice-Chancellor

Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice-Chancellor, said:

"It is hard to have confidence in a Teaching Excellence Framework which appears devoid of any meaningful assessment of teaching. I know I am not alone in having deep concerns about its subjective assessment, its lack of transparency, and with different benchmarks for each institution removing any sense of equity and equality of assessment.

Our own student satisfaction metrics, including satisfaction with teaching, are better than some of those universities who have been awarded Silver and Gold today. This was a pilot scheme and there are serious lessons to be learned if the TEF is to gain public confidence."

Status of the appeal

Following publication of the initial TEF results, the University launched an appeal. In August 2017, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) informed the University that this appeal was unsuccessful resulting in the following response by a University spokesperson:

"We are extremely disappointed that HEFCE has rejected our appeal [and appears to have rejected appeals from other universities]. We, like other universities, had identified a number of significant irregularities in the process which had a material effect on the assessment panel's decisions, and it is disappointing that HEFCE appears unwilling to accept and learn from the flaws in the pilot TEF.

"We have been consistent in our concerns about TEF, but we remain committed to working with Government to ensure TEF does become a genuine measure of teaching excellence, that it accurately reflects the teaching and student experience of individual universities, and that it genuinely helps and informs prospective students and their parents as intended."

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