Words by Puddles the Monkey

A model by Time Higher Education of what the new Teaching Excellence Framework could look like reveals the best teaching universities in the UK.

THE has created the first data analysis of teaching excellence based on the government’s planned TEF methodology. In order to be accurate about universities’ performance, their analysts have used benchmark measures to take in to account things like entry qualifications, subject mix and ethnicity. These are intended to reduce the effects of selectivity and reveal a more truthful idea of the value added to students during their time at university.

The results could turn current league tables on their head.

A surprising result

Relative TEF rank
Absolute TEF rankUniversity name
Absolute overall score
Relative overall score
15Loughborough University
213Aston University
De Montfort University64.193.9
415Swansea University83.6
5=22University of Kent
634Coventry University70.291.4
7=10Keele University
812University of Surrey
9=2University of Bath
107Lancaster University

The full list and analysis can be found here on the Times Higher Education website.

The whole table is divided in to three broad categories – the top 20 to 30 percent will be labelled as “outstanding”, the middle 50 to 60 percent will be “excellent” and the bottom 20 percent will be classified as “meeting expectations”.

Unlike the THE World Rankings which places Oxbridge and Russell Group universities highly, the model TEF framework has surprising results. The University of Oxford comes in 28th place, while Cambridge comes in 12th. Imperial College London which ranks 3rd now appears in 37th place. Although no Russell Group university appears in the “meets expectations” category, only one in five of the top “outstanding” universities belong to a Russell Group member and none appears in the top 10.

“Our analysis shows how challenging it could be for universities that have built their reputations on research strength alone,” Says John Gill, editor of the Times Higher Education.

The Midlands shine

Instead of the Oxbridge/London “Golden Triangle“, it’s the midlands that really shine in the new analysis. The top three universities are Loughborough, Aston and De Montfort, with Coventry in 6th place and Keele in 7th – meaning that the midlands dominates the top 10. The north of England also does well, with Lancaster coming in 10th place Durham in 16th and Leeds in 25th.

De Montfort, Sussex and Cambridge come top for benchmarked graduate destinations, while Aston, Chichester and Bishop Grossesteste have the best rates for course completion (meaning their students are the least likely to drop out). Meanwhile Keele, Winchester and Loughborough score highest for student satisfaction.

“The government’s intention with the TEF is to highlight and reward the universities that deliver for students, and to tackle those that focus on research at the expense of teaching,” says Gill.

What does this all mean?
Although there are some key differences in how this table was compiled compared to how the real thing will be, the results should give an idea about how the TEF will look. “We hope and expect that our exercise generates a valuable discussion about the overall approach outlined by the government,” says Nicki Horseman, lead higher education data analyst for THE.

THE have used question 22 from the National Student Survey as a proxy for the sets of questions the government plans to use in the TEF. It is also based on a single year’s data, whereas the TEF will be based on three years of data. THE have also ignored subjective elements like the peer review.

The results are intended to be useful for applicants who want to apply to universities with better teaching, better rates of completion and a bigger chance of having graduate level employment. “This has the potential to impact on universities’ ability to raise fees in line with inflation, and perhaps more importantly on the perception of students – both domestic and international – as they decide where to study,” says Gill.

Are you surprised by the results? Post your thoughts in the comments below.