Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE)
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HEFCE to run pilots of Teaching Excellence Framework assessments at subject level

HEFCE welcomes the Government’s publication of the specification for subject-level pilots of the Teaching Excellence Framework.

The subject-level pilots will run from Autumn 2017 until Spring 2018.

HEFCE, which has been commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to implement the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), will encourage a wide range of higher education providers to take part in the pilots, whether or not they have already participated in the TEF. Universities and colleges will be able to apply, and between 30 and 40 will be selected from across the UK higher education sector. Applications will be required by Monday 25 September.

The findings from the pilots will help ensure that the design of TEF at subject level is informed by thorough evidence and experience of how different options work in practice. No ratings identifying individual providers will be published, as the pilots are purely developmental.

The DfE specification states that, building on the pilots, subject-level TEF assessment will be implemented in the academic year 2019-20 and subject-level ratings published in spring 2020.

Chris Husbands, Chair of the TEF Assessment Panel, said

‘This year’s TEF was a groundbreaking exercise which has generated a wealth of insight into teaching across the sector. It has always been the plan to develop the TEF over time, and we are looking forward to working with universities and colleges, piloting ways to assess teaching excellence at subject level.’

Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said

‘The UK already has a high bar for quality and standards, which all universities and colleges must meet. The TEF measures excellence above and beyond this, and we are very pleased to be working to develop and refine the TEF so that it can be as useful as possible in helping prospective students choose where to study.’


  1. The Teaching Excellence Framework has been developed by the Department for Education to place a spotlight on teaching and give students clear, understandable information about where the most excellent teaching and student outcomes can be found. In doing so, it builds on the rigorous quality assessment systems operating throughout the UK.

  2. The first TEF results, published in June this year, assessed teaching excellence at the level of the overall university or college, rather than specific subjects.
  3. The subject-level pilots will inform the further development of the TEF by testing how ratings could be assigned at subject as well as institutional level. This has the potential to provide students with more detailed information to inform their choices of where to study.
  4. The DfE will run a full consultation on subject-level TEF later this year to ensure providers, students, employers and other stakeholders have the opportunity to comment on the proposed design.
  5. As part of the subject-level pilots, HEFCE will also pilot a teaching intensity measure, exploring how to collect data on issues such as class size and contact time, and their potential use to inform a subject-level TEF assessment.
  6. ‘Teaching Excellence Framework: Year 3 subject-level pilot specification’ is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teaching-excellence-framework-subject-level-pilot-specification.
  7. See more information on the TEF.


Channel website: http://www.hefce.ac.uk

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