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Preparing for TEF 2027 – ‘Patterns of excellence’ in TEF 2023

30 May 2024 | Advance HE Ahead of the publication of the full report ‘TEF 2023: Patterns of Excellence’ next week, we are sharing the key findings of our new qualitative thematic research which offers Advance HE members insights into how providers articulated and evidenced teaching excellence in TEF 2023.

Advance HE’s ‘Briefing for Senior Leaders’ points to the key findings of our new ‘TEF 2023: Patterns of Excellence’ which comprehensively maps patterns in the submissions across a sample of 40 providers achieving a TEF Gold award in 2023. Advance HE commissioned the report so that its members can better understand how providers have articulated and demonstrated teaching excellence.   

Each provider in the sample achieved a rating of Gold in at least one of the ‘aspects’ of teaching excellence either as a new entrant to the TEF or as an ‘improved’ provider whose award had risen compared to a previous assessment. The report provides in-depth analysis of a subset with a Gold award in all TEF categories (‘Triple Golds’).  

The research reveals several features common to ‘gold achievers’ including:  

  • The prevalence of whole-institutional strategies for teaching excellence  
  • A recurrent trend of providers striving for consistency across contexts of notable diversity (student body, disciplines or programme types) through whole-institutional strategies, frameworks, policies, staff processes and systems, with implementation at scale 
  • The proactive use of data to support strategic approaches to managing areas of poor performance  
  • Adopting a strategic approach to evidence and evaluation through the systematised collection of data, performance monitoring and evidence of impact – particularly of educational gains 
  • The commonality of approach to educational gains – with four enduring pervasive dimensions of gain, but nuanced through alignment with the provider’s particular mission or approach  
  • ‘Triple focus’ on success – triple gold-rated providers’ focus on success was multi-faceted and future-focused, going beyond developing students’ success during their time in higher education, and as graduates, to preparing graduates to make a successful contribution to society
  • Providers were taking a more targeted approach to continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure consistency of teaching excellence and the allocation of resources
  • Evidence of a greater level of student partnership in quality assurance and enhancement 
  • Maximising the student experience for all students with targeted interventions because not all students ‘are in the same boat’ 
  • Personal tutoring was a key mechanism used for the development of student-centred relationships and personalisation of support. 

Co-author and Advance HE Associate, Dr Geoff Stoakes, said, “With the clock ticking towards the next TEF in 2027, our research offers clear evidence to support the thinking of institutions in their continuous efforts to enhance teaching.  

“A clear ‘take-out’ from the evidence we analysed is the vital role of leadership teams in pursuing whole institutional approaches to achieving the best outcomes for students while they are studying in HE; and – with the most successful submissions – in their success as graduates.” 

James Dunphy, Advance HE Collaborations Director (Quality Enhancement and Partnerships), said, 

"This research provides strong evidence for the approaches institutions are taking to secure success for their students and to have this recognised by the Teaching Excellence Framework.  It's clear - taking a whole-institution approach, managing for high performance and investing in staff development form important elements of the picture for institutions securing greatest recognition and success.  

"The role of leaders and their institution-level teams is particularly evident - with those who set out clear ambition in learning and teaching and flow this through strategy and action leveraging rewards for students, staff and the reputation of their institution."   

Available now to Advance HE members: TEF 2023: patterns of Excellence – Briefing for Senior Leaders. 

The full report will be published 5 June 2024.

Advance HE’s TEF 2023: Patterns of Excellence complements other recent work and articles published in the sector including: 


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