On 26th January 2017, universities across Scotland had to apply to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) if they wanted to opt into this year’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF 2). Institutions who decide to do so must prepare a 15-page written submission to support their case, alongside a number of metrics, including data from the National Student Survey (NSS), Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), and Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE). This information is then considered by TEF assessors and panel members to make a judgement and award a rating of Bronze, Silver or Gold.
Although HEFCE guidance encourages institutions to “show how they have involved students in preparing the submission”, there is no requirement for HEIs to do this. As a result, institutions who do not engage their students in the process will not be disadvantaged in their application.
Although Scottish institutions are already reviewed as part of the Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF), the indications are that a small number of Scottish HEIs will opt into TEF 2.
Unlike TEF, Scotland’s QEF is a sector-owned framework in which all institutions participate. It provides robust public information on the quality of the student experience. Student engagement is one of the pillars of the QEF and partnership between universities and students is a fundamental feature of the Scottish sector.
Since sparqs was created in 2003, one of our key priorities has been to support student engagement in the QEF. This work includes our annual training events for student officers That’s Quality!, work to support student engagement in internal and external reviews and the Enhancement Themes.
It is our view that the QEF provides much greater opportunity for meaningful student engagement in learning and teaching quality. With this in mind we will continue to prioritise supporting and developing student engagement in the QEF while recognising that some institutions will also choose to enter TEF, either now or in the future. We will work to support those institutions to ensure their students and students’ associations are partners in this process.
At present the UK Department for Education and HEFCE are engaging with the sector to develop plans for subject-level TEF. As these plans progress we will work closely with NUS Scotland and other sector agencies to ensure that students are able to continue to engage with and influence TEF developments in Scotland.
For more information about sparqs work on this area please contact Hannah Clarke, sparqs Development Consultant - Hannah.Clarke@sparqs.ac.uk