Teaching Excellence Framework and the Emergency Budget: Business schools respond


In early July, Universities Minister Jo Johnson announced his plans to introduce a Teaching Excellence Framework which would “widen participation and drive up teaching quality” as well as “ensure students receive an excellent teaching experience that encourages original thinking, drives up engagement and prepares them for the world of work.” Johnson has indicated the Teaching Excellence Framework will be an incentive to encourage excellent teaching, include outcome-focused criteria and metrics and have wide consultation across higher education bodies.

During the Emergency Budget on Wednesday, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne stated the existing cap £9,000 fee cap will be lifted and linked to inflation for institutions that demonstrate the ability to offer high-quality teaching; in line with Jo Johnson’s previous comments about TEF. The Chancellor stated the proposals were to “ensure the university system is sustainable” and emphasised the need “to make sure Britain continues to have the best universities in the world.”

In response, members of the Chartered ABS Learning, Teaching & Student Experience (LTSE) Committee have provided commentary to these proposals:

 “A Teaching REF would give a greater emphasis to learning, teaching and related issues in the UK university sector. Student income forms a very significant part of total income for most Business Schools - in many cases over 90% of total income and therefore a new emphasis and focus on learning and teaching is welcomed.

However, we will await with great interest the details of any proposals for a Teaching REF (which could be linked to raising fees) and assess the impact and resource implications for UK Business Schools.”
Jerry Forrester, Dean, University of Hertfordshire Business School (Chair of the Chartered ABS LTSE Committee)

“Teaching excellence within our universities is crucial as the biggest impact a University has is through its students, past and present. A Teaching Excellence Framework would be a positive development if it resulted in teaching achievement being recognised and valued as much as research outcomes. Linking fee rises to excellent attainment does not seem unreasonable; however, the challenge lies in determining how excellence can be measured equitably across different disciplines and teaching methods, not least because the expectations of HE held by different audiences vary widely. In my opinion any assessment of teaching excellence must incorporate measurement of the students’ learning gain, be less cumbersome and expensive than the REF and be enacted in a way which doesn’t lead to academic time being diverted from the very activity that a TEF would seek to measure.”
Professor Denise Skinner, Executive Dean, Postgraduate Strategy and Development, Coventry University

“Whilst universities will undoubtedly welcome the principle that fees should rise in line with inflation, this may be a case of be careful what you wish for.  There are of course concerns about the gameification that such metrics may encourage, or even require of institutions, if these metrics are not carefully thought through.  More fundamentally we have to ask, what happens to the quality of the student experience in those institutions that find themselves caught in a downwards spiral of capped fees and hence insufficient resource to improve performance?”
Professor Julia Clarke, Dean of Faculty of Business and Law, Manchester Metropolitan University

“Providing access to top-class university education to learners from all backgrounds and all those able to benefit remains one of our key priorities. The introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework could be beneficial in recognising teaching excellence and further improving student experience, provided appropriate metrics are identified.”
Professor Georgina Andrews, Director of School of Business and Law, Southampton Solent Business School (Vice-chair of the Chartered ABS LTSE Committee)

The Chartered ABS will continue to monitor the development of TEF and its potential impact on our member business schools.

The implications of the Teaching Excellence Framework and what it could look like will be fully discussed in a session at the Chartered ABS Annual Conference in November.