Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF)

The TEF is an assessment exercise introduced by the Government in England to determine the excellence of universities and colleges at teaching and ensuring students get good outcomes in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.  It is designed for universities and colleges in England, but those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also able to choose to participate. There are systems in place to help ensure that all UK colleges and universities meet national quality standards. The TEF looks at what they are doing above and beyond these standards, and awards them gold, silver or bronze for excellence.

As well as helping prospective students choose where to study, the TEF encourages universities and colleges to work with their students to develop an even better student experience for all.

All higher education providers taking part in the TEF, with their current awards, are shown  here.  The TEF has been running for three years. Participation has been voluntary and around 300 colleges and universities currently hold a TEF award. These awards are all valid until 2021.


The TEF process is managed by the Office for Students.


The awards

These are the TEF awards that can be given to a university or college:

  • gold for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK
  • silver for delivering high quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education
  • bronze for delivering teaching, learning and outcomes for its students that meet rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.

There is also an award of provisional for a university or college that meets the rigorous UK quality requirements, and takes part in the TEF, but does not yet have enough data to be fully assessed.

A short award summary by the TEF panel explains the reasons for each provider's award. It is important to look also at these as well as the actual award. You can read the award summaries  here.


How the TEF awards are decided

An independent panel of experts - including academics, students and experts in employment and widening participation - carries out the TEF assessments. Details are available  here.

Each university or college is assessed against criteria that cover areas of teaching quality, learning environment and the outcomes students achieve in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

The panel considers evidence from national data on continuation rates, student satisfaction and subsequent employment or further study. They also consider written evidence submitted by the university or college. The assessment takes into account each university or college's particular student mix - their characteristics, entry qualifications and subjects studied.

The data and the submitted evidence can be viewed  here.


The TEF and fees


Publicly funded universities and colleges in England with a TEF award may charge up to the higher maximum tuition fee for 2020 entrants. The maximum tuition fee they can charge for a full-time course is £9,250 per year. Those without a TEF award can charge a maximum of £9,000 per year.

Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland

As the TEF is an England initiative, in which HE providers from the other UK nations can participate, gaining a TEF award has no effect on the tuition fees that providers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can charge.