2017 sees the launch of the Teaching Excellence Framework for Higher Education providers in England. Those who sign up by the end of this month will self-assess, and then be externally assessed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in relation to teaching quality, learning environment and student outcomes.
The Framework provides opportunities for students to play an active role in supporting excellent teaching and learning environments, but may well cause concerns for HE Institutions who know that they have little influence over future employment opportunities, which form a significant part of measuring their success.
Jo Johnson’s proposal for a TEF similar to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) has stirred up both approval and dissent amongst university staff. The REF was seen as skewing the focus of universities too far in the direction of high status research and away from the student experience. Will this address the balance or lead to similar problems? Problems such as the hiring fair scenario of well-respected teaching experts being wooed to well-resourced universities in advance of the data collection cut off for each TEF period.
There should be much debate about how teaching excellence is measured and the design of a metrics system to deliver robust information. Given that the final result will probably be a league table of universities – a further step toward the consumer model of education – the quick route would be to use data already available such as: HEA membership, teaching qualification, National Student Survey results, student retention, student results. This, of course, sidesteps the wider debate about what Teaching Excellence might actually be and how one might measure it.