Government Plans For Universities Will Have ‘Severe Ramifications’ Says NUS Open Letter
Wednesday morning, NUS and members of students’ unions across the UK published an open letter condemning the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
The letter, which was published on the Guardian, entitled “TEF is an unreliable test for university teaching”, is a rallying cry against the government’s proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and has the backing of hundreds of students and NUS delegates.
It directly calls on Vice Chancellors to join the debate and take a proactive stance against the government’s “harmful changes” to higher education.
What is TEF?
The aim of TEF, according to the government, is to ensure all students receive an excellent standard of teaching. The framework the government is proposing would allow them to monitor and assess the quality of teaching at universities and provide both students and employers with information on the status of institutions.
They also propose linking TEF to tuition fees, so universities that are assessed and achieve a high TEF rating will be allowed to raise fees – whereas those who achieve lowers scores will be unable to.
Each university’s quality score would be calculated using various measures such as degree results, employment data and information from the National Student Survey.
Who wrote the letter and what they want.
The open letter was signed by 55 SUs, plus the National Union of Students. 206 representatives’ names feature in total.
The authors of the letter state that TEF “aims to link tuition fee rises to an assessment of teaching quality according to questionable metrics” and claim that it will have “severe ramifications” on higher education and will ultimately entrench inequality.
They predict that tuition fees could reach £11,697 by 2025-26 if TEF were implemented.
The letter suggests the poorest students will be hit hardest and claims that 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are already 2.4 times less likely to apply to university. It’s argued that with the implementation of TEF and the scrapping of maintenance grants, these figures could worsen.
The authors of the letter instead propose a “partnership” between students and HE staff to assess and improve teaching quality, not a framework calculated from external sources and bodies.
They express how important it is for VCs to “add their voices” to what is described as “the most significant shakeup of higher education in decades”.
When will the Teaching Excellence Framework be implemented?
At the moment TEF is still in its planning phase, but it is expected to be introduced in 2017/2018. The proposal currently only applies to England, not the whole of the UK, but this could change.
Did representatives from your university sign the open letter?
Members of the Students’ Unions associated with the following universities did. We’ve listed them in alphabetical order:
Anglia Ruskin University
University of the Arts London
University of Bath
University of Birkbeck
University of Bradford
University of Bristol
University of Brunel
University of Cambridge
Canterbury Christ Church University
University of Chester
City College Norwich
University for the Creative Arts
De Montfort University
University of Derby
University of East Anglia
University of East London
Edge Hill University
University of Edinburgh
University of Keele
King’s College London
University of Leeds
University of Liverpool
University of Manchester
Manchester Metropolitan University
University of Middlesex
University of Northampton
University of Northumbria
University of Nottingham
University of Oxford
Oxford Brookes University
University of Plymouth
University of Portsmouth
Queen Margaret University
University of Reading
Robert Gordon University
Royal College of Art
Royal Holloway, University of London
University of Sheffield
Sheffield Hallam University
University of Southampton
University of Strathclyde
University of Sunderland
University of Sussex
University of Warwick
University of the West of England
University of the West of Scotland
University of York