By Ewan Quayle
The University of Salford has scored the lowest rating in the first ever results from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
The TEF is a controversial new scheme to assess the quality of teaching at British universities and colleges. Over 130 universities in the UK took part.
Universities can receive a gold, silver, or bronze rating. The tests are broadly based on teaching, academic support and how quickly graduates find work.
A number of world-famous universities joined Salford with a bronze rating, including Russell Group members LSE and the University of Liverpool.
In a statement on their website, the University of Salford said:
We have been rated bronze, rather than silver, because a few years ago not as many of our graduates as we would have liked went on to get jobs in their chosen profession within a year of leaving university. That has changed and is constantly improving, as are our National Student Survey scores.
Although the scheme was designed partly to control how much tuition fees rise each year, this idea has been dropped until 2020.
The government is allowing many universities, including Salford, to raise fees to £9,250 next year despite getting a bronze rating.
A post on the University of Salford Students’ Union (USSU) website argues that statistics are less important than excellent teaching:
Taking part in the TEF is optional and so are the fee increases. But so far the University of Salford has indicated that they will be increasing fees if they can. We think that excellent teaching is more than just statistics.
The TEF results are also linked to results from the National Student Survey (NSS).
Many Students’ Unions have followed the call from the National Union of Students to boycott the NSS.
They claim it allows yearly hikes to tuition fees, but this year USSU encouraged students to take part in the survey.
Jon-Connor Lyons, Arts and Media Officer at USSU, said:
Salford students have been vocal about rising tuition fees and it’s connection to the ratings of our University. Despite the Union not backing students in being active against TEF, I will very actively and openly oppose this. Our Union needs to be standing up for our students, not going against their interests.
Jon-Connor has written an opinion piece on this issue for the Salfordian – read it here.