What's wrong with our Universities, and will the Teaching Excellence Framework put it right?
University of Southampton Distinguished Lecture
1st February 2017: 6 p.m.
What’s wrong with our Universities, and will the Teaching Excellence
Framework put it right?
In 2016, thegovernmentintroduced the Higher Education and Research Bill
2016-17,which is currently being debated in the Houseof Lords and has
particular importance for universities in England. The Bill contains a complex
mix of proposals that involvestructuralchanges in the relationship between
governmentand universities, new criteria for whatconstitutes a university,
and the placement of teaching and research in different Departments of State.
A major focus of the Green Paper introducing the Bill was the need for a
Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) to parallel the Research Excellence
The TEF does not require new legislation and, even though the Bill is now
facing someopposition in the Lords, the TEF is now being implemented
without any parliamentary scrutiny. In this talk I will evaluate:
the arguments made in the Green Paper in favour of introducing a TEF
the formalresponses to TEF proposals in the Green Paper
specific criticism of the statistical basis of the proposed TEF
cost-benefit analysis of the TEF
I will conclude that the TEF is seriously flawed. Itwill not achieve its intended
aims, but will instead be a costly and bureaucratic exercise based on invalid
and unreliable metrics. Furthermore, by linking fee levels with ratings, it
threatens to create conflict between students and vice-chancellors. There is no
question that a thriving Higher Education system needs to value teaching as
well as research, and to be able to offer a diverserange of educational
opportunities. The TEF, however, is not the way to achieve this.
Professor Dorothy Bishop, FRS, FBA, FMedSci,
Department of Experimental Psychology,
University of Oxford,