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UK: TEF confusion need to be addressed

More needs to be done to ensure international students have a clear understanding of how metrics such as the Teaching Excellence Framework operate to ensure they benefit both students and universities, director of Marketing & Market Intelligence at QS Enrolment Solutions Paul Raybould has said. 

Raybould said now is the right time to ensure that such metrics are understood and work to benefit both students and universities. Photo: PixabayRaybould said now is the right time to ensure that TEF IS understood and works to benefit both international students and universities. Photo: Pixabay

"[TEF] implications expand beyond the metrics it was created to measure"

Speaking at the Higher Education Commission inquiry into Higher Education Export in the House of Lords, Raybould said international students will “use TEF results to decide between institutions”, but that there are a number of misconceptions that the sector needs to be aware of.

The voluntary TEF medal scheme was introduced by the HEFCE in 2016 to recognise quality in teaching at undergraduate level.

In 2017 the first round of Gold, Silver and Bronze ratings were awarded to some surprise institutions, however, there were concerns that international students would misunderstand or be confused by the TEF rankings.

“There are a number of misconceptions that the sector needs to be aware of”

Drawing on initial findings from QS Enrolment Solutions’ 2018 International Student Survey, Raybould said almost 60% of respondents believe that the TEF measures both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching quality, which shows “[TEF] implications expand beyond the metrics it was created to measure”.

He told the Commission that while it is clear that international students welcome metrics that simplify the analysis of complex factors such as teaching quality, “now is the right time to ensure that such metrics are understood and therefore work to benefit both students and universities”.

He added that initial findings of the 2018 survey revealed just over 50% of prospective students agree with the statement that “the Teaching Excellence Framework is the best way of understanding teaching quality”.

Giving evidence to the Commission’s co-chairs – Lord Norton of Louth and Professor Simon Marginson – Raybould emphasised the strength of the international higher education market in the UK.

“In terms of international student recruitment, one of the UK’s biggest strengths is its longstanding history of recruiting large numbers of students combined with its reputation for high-quality teaching,” he said.

“Our International Student Survey shows that high-quality teaching is one of the most important factors when choosing a university and country to live in.”

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