Westminster Higher Education Forum

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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

January 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***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 follows the recent publication of Dame Shirley Pearce’s Independent review of TEF and the response from the DfE.

It will be an opportunity to discuss key aspects of the Government’s response which asks the Office for Students to develop what it describes as a revised and invigorated provider-level TEF which would be underpinned by three key principles - transparency, relevancy, robustness - and would run every four or five years.

The agenda:

  • Updates to the Teaching Excellence Framework - an overview of developments
  • ‘Transforming teaching in turbulent times’
  • 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
  • Learning from the subject-level TEF - benchmarking, narrative statements and the effect of the pandemic on data and evidence gathering across subjects

The context for discussion:

  • The just-published Independent Review of TEF and Government’s response which proposes:
    • the TEF should take place every four or five years
    • subject level assessments should not proceed at this time 
    • a reformed structure and ratings system for the TEF based around three aspects of quality - teaching and learning environment, educational gains and graduate outcomes and which has four rating categories for universities
  • Forthcoming Office for Students consultation on how to take forward the Review’s recommendations and the Government’s response expected in the spring ahead of the implementation of the new framework in September 2022
  • 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 - 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 - including:
    • sharing of insights from subject-level pilot participants around writing submissions
    • making genuine improvements to teaching practices, and how concerns and issues are dealt with in the independent review
  • the second-year subject pilots - what has been learnt in areas including the revised assessment model being tested and 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. Also due to attend are representatives from Aberystwyth University; Activate Learning; Aston University; Bath Spa University; Bournemouth University; City, University of London; Hartpury University; Imperial College London; INTO University Partnerships; Ipsos MORI; Kingston University; Leeds Trinity University; London Metropolitan University; Luminate Education Group; Manchester Metropolitan University; Middlesex University; NA; Newman University; Petroc; Plymouth Marjon University; QMUL; Queen Margaret University; Queen Mary University of London; Ravensbourne University London; Sheffield Hallam University; SOAS; SOAS, University of London; Spanish Embassy, Education Office; Staffordshire University; Study Group; The British Academy; The Courtauld Institute of Art; The Open University; The University of Hull; The University of Law; University Centre Quayside; University Centre Weston; University College Birmingham; University for the Creative Arts; University of Brighton; University of Bristol; University of Buckingham; University of Central Lancashire; University of East London; University of Exeter; University of Kent; University of Leicester; University of Liverpool in London; University of Manchester; University of Northampton; University of Nottingham; University of Suffolk; University of Sunderland in London; University of Surrey; University of the Arts London; University of Winchester; University of Wolverhampton; University of Derby; Wigan and Leigh College and York St John University.

A press pass has been reserved by a representative from Times Higher Education.

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

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript 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

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles