The release of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has been met with mixed reactions. The new scheme was set up to recognise excellent teaching and provide information to help prospective students choose where to study. And with the TEF ranking Higher Education providers as gold, silver or bronze, there is understandable disquiet within the some of the 295 institutions that have taken part.
For many years universities have been judged primarily on research performance, even though teaching forms a core element of every university's purpose. Until now there has been no means of validating the quality of the teaching provided. This new rating system has been established to recognise excellent teaching and the work that goes in to providing an outstanding overall student experience.
I believe that, instead of focusing on detailed arguments about methodology, we should welcome this first attempt to assess and recognise excellent teaching. Alongside existing metrics, including research performance, this new information will provide prospective applicants with a more holistic picture of UK universities. It's worth remembering that truly great teaching is backed up by cutting edge research, so this new framework simply provides an opportunity to rebalance how we assess excellence within higher education.
In order to make the best decisions, prospective students must be equipped and empowered by having access to impartial information on the quality of teaching they can expect to receive, before they apply to study. That the TEF seeks to provide them with this can only be a good thing.
Of course, this development is absolutely necessary given the significant amounts that students must now pay for their undergraduate studies. As a result it has become increasingly important for institutions to demonstrate that they will provide a first class experience, ensuring that students have the best chance to fully engage with, and successfully complete their studies; whilst obtaining the outcomes and opportunities they should be able to expect as a result of their investment of time and money.
There will be many comments within the Higher Education sector about how the TEF metrics do not provide a full assessment of teaching quality. Clearly I'm not claiming that the TEF methodology is perfect, or that it cannot be refined as we proceed in this journey. However it is worth highlighting that the whole sector was involved in the development process for the TEF and, crucially peer review has a major influence on outcomes. Together, as a sector, we must work collaboratively to develop the measures underpinning the Framework, because at the heart of this is a really important mission: ensuring that applicants have impartial information that helps them to make properly-informed decisions.
For many years now, our university has been absolutely focused on providing the very best teaching and experience for students. Having the hard work of our staff recognised through our Gold rating is obviously welcomed. We expect that this rating will help to attract more good teachers to our institution as well as students.
To celebrate the University of Portsmouth being awarded a gold rating Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower was lit up gold.
The significant contribution of those who teach and support students in other ways make to society is not celebrated enough. A further reason for my support of the TEF is that it is a very welcome move towards better recognising the importance of high quality teaching to students and to the UK as a whole.
It is clear that we have a diverse range of fantastic universities throughout the UK - amongst the finest in the world - and we must continue to spread that message together. Through our continued efforts to enhance the quality of all of our provision, across both teaching and research, we will ensure the continued strength and development of our sector as a whole. I'd call on all those who are dismissing the TEF to keep this in mind and come together to make the system better. After all shouldn't we all be going for gold?