Posted on Fri 23 Jun 2017 at 09:17 by Lucy Gill
Across the UK, some universities will be incredibly glum today - and not because the sun has gone in. They’ll be unhappy because the government has just released the results of its Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
The TEF is a big ratings system where the government throws in a load of data - such as how satisfied you are with teaching on your course, how much support you get from your department, and what job you get after uni – and the system then gives the University a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal based on how well you do. The university also get the chance to write a document to the government telling them why their uni is better than all of the others, called an ‘institutional submission.’
In the recent results, Birmingham - along with other universities such as Leeds, Keele, and Cambridge - has been awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework. Should you care about this? To be honest, not really.
Universities have said since day one that the TEF wouldn’t work, but the government insisted it’d be useful for students. Of course, the government never asked us whether we wanted this – particularly when they decided to link the TEF medals to higher fees – and, in fact, most of you think the data wouldn’t really affect where you study. But alas, institutions across the UK have gone along with it, and have done nothing other than prove that the TEF doesn’t work.
Why doesn’t it work? The metrics don’t mean anything! Take, for example, your employment outcomes which are measured in the TEF. The quality of your teaching is not directly related to what job you get after uni – in fact, your earnings are much more likely to be related to where you’re from - but the TEF thinks it is!
You’ll probably see one of three conversations happening today:
- A uni has done really well and got gold, so doesn’t think the TEF is a bad idea after all.
- A uni has done really badly and got bronze and so thinks the TEF is the worst thing in the world.
- A uni has done bang average and bagged a silver, and won’t say anything in quiet embarrassment.
The Guild won’t be having any of those conversations: we know the TEF doesn’t work. That’s why we campaigned extensively with the rest of the student movement to cut the link between TEF quality ratings and fees – a battle we’ve won until 2020!
We will continually work to ensure that you get the best quality education whilst here at Birmingham. We seek to promote collaboration and genuine dialogue with the university, to strive for an incredible experience at university and not rely on dodgy figures that give us nothing more than a gold medal on the bottom of our email addresses.
We will also do everything in our power to campaign on the TEF, encouraging universities to speak out and tell the government that the TEF doesn’t work. But we can only do that together.
Your Officer Team are ready to fight for a quality education system, not only here but across the UK. We hope you’ll join us too in working to achieve this.