Results are in for the third year of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which has undergone significant changes following the year two consultation. Imperial’s gold rating (awarded in June 2017) still stands, though it may not be directly comparable with institutions that received gold in the 2018 assessment.

Following feedback from year two participants, the Department for Education made a series of “refinements” to TEF (which now stands for the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework). There are now six main metrics (drawn from the National Student Survey, numbers of students completing their course, and numbers of students in employment or education six months post-graduation) which are intended to test teaching quality, learning environment, and learning gain. Weighting of each metric has also been changed: each of the three NSS-based metrics has a weighting of 0.5 while the three non-NSS-based metrics are weighted as 1.0.

A flag system has also been introduced to indicate providers who are significantly above or below the TEF benchmarks for each metric and is used to form an “initial hypothesis”. For each metric a provider may receive zero, one or two positive or negative flags. Providers with positive flags totalling at least 2.5 (according to the new weighting system) and no negative flags are initially considered gold. Institutes with negative flags amounting to 1.5 or more are to be considered bronze, regardless of any positive flags they may have received. All other providers are deemed silver.

Assessors also consider supplementary metrics, such as longitudinal education outcomes and grade inflation, as part of a “holistic judgement” before issuing the final award. The rating process has become so complicated that additional training may be required for assessors “without a background in handling advanced data”.

About a quarter of the 231 institutions to receive a full new-look TEF award were rated gold; half took silver and the remainder were given bronze ratings. A further 64 education providers received provisional awards due to a lack of data required for a full assessment.

In addition to institution-level TEF awards, a two year trial of subject-level awards is underway.