Westminster Higher Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Where next for the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) - metrics, subject-level assessment, and the impact of COVID-19

Morning, Thursday, 28th January 2021


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the future of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) - and for measurement of teaching excellence in higher education.

It is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DfE; the Office for Statistics Regulation; and the Welsh Government.

The background and discussion at a glance:

The discussion comes with uncertainty surrounding the future of the TEF and how teaching excellence will be measured in the UK universities following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference is also timed to follow the expected publication of Dame Shirley Pearce's Independent review of TEF. Amatey Doku, a member of the Advisory Panel, is a speaker.

It will be an opportunity to:

  • take stock of the development of the Framework and likely future revisions to its metrics and methodology
  • consider the independent review’s key findings
  • discuss what has been learned from the second-year subject pilots

The agenda:

  • Updates to the Teaching Excellence Framework - an overview of the changes
  • Reflecting on the development of the Framework - responding to the recommendations of the Independent Review, assessing the effect of remote teaching on TEF, and the future of measuring teaching excellence
  • The second-year subject pilots - what has been learnt?
  • The experience of a pilot participant - engaging departmental staff, integrating the TEF into internal quality assurance reviews, and managing resources
  • The future of subject-level TEF - benchmarking, narrative statements and the effect of the pandemic on data and evidence gathering across subjects

The context for discussion:

  • the Independent Review of TEF - which is looking at:
    • the efficacy of the process and data sets used to determine TEF scores
    • the appropriateness of the ratings system
    • the impact of the Framework on the ability of providers to carry out teaching and research activities
    • whether the TEF is in the public interest
  • extension - until 2021 of TEF awards currently given to providers, as well as the OfS decision to not conduct a TEF year 5 exercise in 2020
    • this follows the OfS expectation that the future TEF exercise will be completed in 2022, rather than 2021
  • subject-level TEF - concern from some universities and mission groups surrounding its potential effects, in terms of cost and statistical shortcomings
  • COVID-19 - challenges exposed by the pandemic, including:
    • delivery of remote teaching
    • disruptions to data and student satisfaction measures
    • squaring the effect of institutions’ currently limited resources on appetite for the Framework with the expectation laid out in the Higher Education Act of 2017 of a quality rating scheme for teaching excellence to be developed

The discussion in detail:

  • the COVID-19 crisis - its impact on:
    • funding decisions - the future influence of TEF, in light of the economic impact of the pandemic on priorities for the higher education sector
    • comparability of data - the most recent information versus that from previous years, and the effect of this on the Framework
    • measurement of subject-level teaching excellence - across varying disciplines, each with their own individual challenges for adapting to remote teaching
  •  the Framework’s metrics - looking at proposed refinements:
    • balance - of core and supplementary metrics
    • changes - aimed at boosting the reliability and suitability of the data sets used in the TEF
  •  National Student Survey (NSS) scores and Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data - discussing their use, with discussion expected on:
    • OfS announces next steps for the National Student Survey - a review into the future for the NSS following concerns surrounding its bureaucratic burden and impact on standards, with the first stage report expected to be published later this year
    • sector concerns - how far have they been addressed by the independent review’s findings
    • the alternative graduate outcomes measure - put forward by UUK
  •  Subject-level TEF - looking at the future, including:
    • sharing of insights from subject-level pilot participants around writing submissions
    • minimising the burden for teaching academics
    • making genuine improvements to teaching practices, and how concerns and issues are dealt with in the independent review
  •  The second-year subject pilots, whereby 45 higher education providers trialled a refined version of the TEF - with changes from the 2017-18 pilot - looking at what has been learnt in areas including:
    • the revised assessment model being tested
    • alterations to metrics

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education; the Office for Statistics Regulation; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, university and college leaders; academics and other higher education professionals; representatives from students' unions; businesses and their advisors; interest groups and the voluntary sector; along with commentators and reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Graeme Rosenberg

TEF Manager, Office for Students

Keynote Speakers

Professor Janice Kay

Deputy Chair, TEF Panel and Provost and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Exeter

Professor Neil Ward

Deputy Vice Chancellor and PVC Academic Affairs, University of East Anglia

Graeme Rosenberg

TEF Manager, Office for Students


Baroness Young of Old Scone

Lord Norton of Louth

(subject to diary)


David Hillier

Assistant Principal, Higher Education and Business Development, South Thames College Group

Dr Rebecca Browett

Head of Education Strategy & Policy, King’s College London

Dr Mónica Franco-Santos

Reader in Organisational Governance, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University

Dr Sal Jarvis

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education), University of Westminster

Professor Helen Higson

Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Aston University

Amatey Doku

Consultant at Nous Group, former Vice-President of Higher Education, NUS and Member of Pearce Review Advisory Group

Steve Taylor

Dean of Higher Education, Warwickshire College Group

Professor Ruth Whittaker

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Education and Students, University of Brighton

Professor Georgina Andrews

Dean, Bath Business School and Vice-Provost, Bath Spa University