January 30, 2017

Submission to TEF

I wanted to share a copy of the letter I’ve sent to the Times Higher about Warwick’s submission to the Teaching Excellence Framework to clarify our institutional position and concerns:

On 26th January, Warwick, like other English universities, put in its Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) submission. It was with mixed feeling. Mixed because, although we agree with the fundamental proposition that universities should provide high quality teaching, we don’t believe that TEF will measure that. We feel we have been backed into a corner.

This is very frustrating as we have good reason to be proud of our teaching. We attract very bright students: our teaching helps them to transform their thinking through in-depth engagement and challenge within their discipline, as well as offering opportunities to learn beyond boundaries. We put our money where our mouth is: we have just opened the Oculus, a new learning and teaching building at £18.5million, complementing our innovative Teaching and Learning Grids (£2.87m); invested £3.19m in our Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning to develop and embed innovative pedagogies and invested over £5m to run Warwick International Higher Education Academy to support our teachers. It is hardly surprising that we attract many international as well as domestic students, nor that our students are the most sought after by employers, and that our alumni exceed the average sustained employment outcomes five years after graduating.

But very little of this will be captured. This is because the metrics are flawed. This is not renegade opinion but the overwhelming view of those actually involved in Higher Education. It is why many of our staff and students at Warwick campaigned for us to stay out of TEF, setting out justified fears about the continued marketization of our sector. Yet the Government has us over a barrel. It has linked TEF to fees and potentially our ability to recruit international students. The risks are too high. We submitted in both senses of the word.

And it is not only the TEF which is of concern: some of the measures in the Higher Education and Research Bill threaten the very nature of the autonomy in Universities which has made UK education the global success it is. The proposed measures treat education as if it is a commodity, just like any other.

This is frustrating and it is puzzling. My message to the Government is this:

our sector, while not perfect, is the envy of the world...let's make sure it stays that way."


Article originally published in the Times Higher Education.

- 2 comments by 2 or more people

  1. Wanda Lewis

    It is excellent to have a V-C prepared to fight against metrics that are supposed to measure quality. The two terms are simply incompatible. One possible solution would be to team up with other universities and boycott future ill-thought out assessments (teaching and research).

    31 Jan 2017, 17:47

  2. Execblog Resource

    Thank you for your comments Wanda, it is a frustrating situation we and the HE sector find ourselves in, Stuart

    01 Feb 2017, 12:35

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