TEF: Uni of York Miss Out On Gold

The University of York was ranked Silver in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), missing out on the Gold ranking. This puts York  below at least 59 other academic institutions in the Government rankings.

York was not alone as a Russell Group university rated second-class by TEF, 13 (62%) of Russell Group universities were ranked Silver or below.

Whilst Roses rivals the University of Lancaster achieved a Gold ranking, local rivals, York St. John University were ranked Bronze, and Varsity competitors Durham University similarly ranked Silver.

A spokesperson for the University told Vision:

“The Silver Award acknowledges that our students achieve excellent outcomes and are significantly challenged while studying at York.

“The review panel acknowledged high levels of student satisfaction with teaching and academic support, and a culture that supports excellent teaching with recognition and awards schemes.

“The panel also noted a ‘high-quality physical and digital learning environment’ and ‘excellent levels of intellectual stimulation.’

“Our lecturers and support staff work incredibly hard delivering high quality teaching programmes, ensuring our students acquire the skills that are highly valued by employers.

“The launch of the York Pedagogy demonstrates our vision and commitment by providing an evidence-based approach to our teaching and clear expectations for our students.

“We are always striving to improve and deliver consistently outstanding teaching programmes and we believe the York Pedagogy and our continued investment in teaching facilities will help achieve that.”

TEF ranking has been the cause of much controversy since its conception by Education Minister Jo Johnston in 2015 and inclusion in the Conservative Manifesto.

Johnston described “the patchiness in the student experience within and between institutions cannot continue. There is extraordinary teaching that deserves greater recognition”

Academics from the Gold ranked, University of Cambridge academics have highlighted that if TEF is associated with tuition fee rises, students will be forced to choose between “quality” and affordability, as proposed by the government white paper on higher education.

Although the Government has announced that is is delaying the link between fees and the TEF for now.

Whilst the Royal Statistics Society insist that there is no reliable association between teaching excellence and the metrics being used to measure teaching excellence in the TEF.

The TEF uses three indirect methods to establish Teaching Excellence, the National Student Survey (NSS), Drop Out rates, and Employability.

The full metrics suggest that York’s biggest hinderance for a Gold rating were its Assessment and Feedback and graduate employability rankings.

YUSU President, Millie Beach, told Vision:
“Significant concerns have been raised across the sector that a gold, silver, bronze rating for an institution wont really reflect either the wide range of quality from one course to another nor allow a student to review the quality metrics that interest them most.
“York’s result is silver, which is a great result for the first year of the TEF and places us securely in the middle of the Russell Group’s results. I hope that the students unions and the university continue to collaborate to ensure the highest quality of teaching and support for students.'”

The reactions of academics on twitter so far has ranged from jubilance, indignation, and nonchalance.

David Beer, Sociology Lecture, said to Big Issue “We need to make sure we don’t get sucked into seeing the world, our bodies and our social connections only in calculative terms.

“Instead we can reflect on what we think matters and explore forms of knowledge, ideas and choices that go beyond mere competition and ranking.”

The University of York also hosted their own Teaching Excellence Awards this year on the 16th June:

  • Teacher of the Year: Claire Metcalfe – Health Sciences
  • Most Innovative Teaching: Gareth Evans – Biology
  • Supervisor of the Year: Jessica Powell – Health Sciences
  • Most Inspiring: Peter Thompson – Psychology
  • PHD Supervisor of the Year: Jason Edwards – History of Art
  • Postgraduate Student Who Teaches of the Year: Jennifer McCaffery – Education
  • Outstanding Feedback:- Sam Hellmuth – Language & Linguistics Science
  • Demonstrator of the Year: Ben Coulson – Chemistry
  • Department of the Year: Biology
  • Promoting Liberation & Inclusivity: Sanjoy Bhattacharya – History
  • Academic Officer’s Award: University of York Library