The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (aka Teaching Excellence Framework, TEF), aims to represent and evaluate the quality of teaching within UK higher education institutions. Whilst the stated aims and ability of the TEF to achieve this have often been questioned, less is known about how higher education institutions have implemented the new framework. … Continued
Surveying student evaluations of teaching: Vital tool or flawed methodology – What do you think?
Student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are an established feature of many academic systems and have been implemented across national research systems in many different forms, often influencing the prospects of individual academics and their institutions. Whilst SETs have recently been critiqued, it is unclear how academics themselves view these evaluations. As a first step in … Continued
The Accident of Accessibility: How the data of the Teaching Excellence Framework creates neoliberal subjects
The stated aim of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is to encourage excellence in teaching in higher education and to provide information for students to make improved decisions about the courses they take at university. In this post, Liz Morrish argues that contrary to these goals, the TEF is only marginally interested in teaching quality and instead contributes to the […]
The neurotic academic: how anxiety fuels casualised academic work
As higher education undergoes a process of marketisation in the UK and the activities of academic staff are increasingly measured and scrutinised, universities are suffused with anxiety. Coupled with pressures facing all staff, casualised academics face multiple forms of insecurity. While anxiety is often perceived as an individual problem for which employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility, Vik Loveday […]
Student data systems and GovTech apps will increase competition and performance measurement in higher education
Current debates in higher education policy have drawn attention to the significant impacts of marketisation, metrics, and performance management on the sector. Ben Williamson argues that a restructuring of the data infrastructure is shaping these HE trends. An examination of the HE data infrastructure reveals the political aspirations coded into its architecture, the actors involved in its production, and its […]
Better information on teaching is required to redress the balance with research
How universities allocate resources – and how academics allocate their own time – between research and teaching is a perennial problem in higher education. The labour market for research is intensely competitive and truly global; while the market for academics focused on teaching is notable by its lack of competition. An obvious result is that academics’ promotion prospects depend primarily […]
Rather than promoting economic value, evaluation can be reclaimed by universities to combat its misuse and negative impacts
To critics across higher education, evaluation frameworks such as the REF and TEF represent mechanisms of control, the generation of a “target and terror” culture. Deirdre Duffy explains how the REF and TEF resonate most closely with impact evaluation, a form of evaluation that can prove useful for a simple cost-benefit analysis but can also be problematic as it encourages […]
There are clear reasons for the increasing award of first-class degrees. A lowering of standards isn’t one of them.
Recent HESA figures revealing yet another increase in the award of first-class degrees have provoked predictable consternation among commentators. Liz Morrish provides some clarity and insight into why student achievement has risen sharply in recent years. The higher education system, and its culture of metrics and key performance indicators, has constructed a student who is a consumer with anxieties which must […]
The UK’s Teaching Excellence Framework does not foster the inclusion of international students as equals
Of the criticisms that have been levelled at the government’s proposed teaching excellence framework (TEF), very few have focused on what the exercise means for international students’ status in British education. Aneta Hayes argues that the absence of TEF metrics that would measure respectful engagement with international students in the classroom means nothing will be done to help their inclusion […]
The effect of NSS scores and league tables on student demand and university application rates is relatively small.
As competition for student recruitment continues to intensify, policymakers and administrators are encouraging an emphasis on ‘student experience’. The National Student Survey (NSS) scores are one indicator that attempts to measure this. But do students really take any notice of NSS scores in making their university choices? Stephen Gibbons shares findings which suggest the effect of changes in NSS scores on demand […]