The voluntary TEF medal scheme was introduced by the HEFCE in 2016 to recognise quality in teaching at undergraduate level.
According to the course finding service, TEF Gold institutions accounted for 24.5% of global searches to the UK between July and September 2017, up from 19.1% for the same period in 2016.
“The results are striking, particularly the surge in interest from prospective Indian students”
The largest increase in interest came from prospective students from India, with searches during this period up from 23.7% to 36.9%. Students researching UK universities from Thailand, Turkey and Brazil were also found to be demonstrating an interest in TEF Gold institutions.
Earlier this year the first round of Gold, Silver and Bronze ratings were awarded to some surprise institutions as many of the country’s highly ranked universities missed out on top tier results.
However there were concerns amongst some education consultants that international students would misunderstand or be confused by the TEF rankings.
Hotcourses group director Aaron Porter told The PIE News that international students are more likely to pay attention to rank and league tables as they don’t have as much access to information on UK institutions.
“The results are striking, particularly the surge in interest from prospective Indian students, who can be difficult for UK universities to recruit,” he said.
“Hopefully [TEF rankings] will breathe new life into a tough market.”
Despite the surge in interest in Gold institutions from key overseas markets, new TEF rankings are having little notable impact on the reputations of UK universities amongst domestic students.
However Porter said that patterns in the application of UK-domiciled students is subject to a number of trends, and it is too early to discern any noticeable shift in domestic students’ interest on the basis of TEF alone.
“Domestic students are trying to navigate a sea of information. So while TEF rankings may not disrupt the domestic market, we might see that impact take hold in a less prominent way further down the line,” he added.