Today, King’s has made public its Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) result, in which it achieved a silver award. Whether bronze, silver or gold, our reaction would have been the same: the TEF doesn’t measure teaching excellence, doesn’t represent student voice, and puts a wedge between universities and Unions by raising undergraduate tuition fees.
The Teaching Excellence Framework is a new way in which Government is measuring teaching excellence in institutions. It is part of the changes to Higher Education and will be linked to student undergraduate tuition fees rises, and is measured using the National Student Survey among other metrics.
KCLSU boycotted the National Student Survey successfully this year to protest Government proposals to link TEF with rising tuition fees.
We argued that, firstly, the teaching excellence framework doesn’t measure teaching quality at all, secondly, rising fees would not help increase teaching quality but price vulnerable students out of education and, thirdly, that including a cut in international student numbers as part of the TEF ranking was perverse.
Since our hugely successful boycott, which saw thousands of students abstain from filling in the National Student Survey both at King’s and across many other institutions, the Higher Education Bill has passed through Parliament. There were some Government concessions, with a delay in linking fees directly to TEF until 2020/21, a requirement for universities to facilitate voter registration and, importantly, an independent evaluation of TEF, which includes the National Student Survey.
The Union and University have signed a joint statement, the only one in the country regarding TEF, agreeing that the TEF metrics are not ‘appropriate measures for improving educational quality’.
We commend the University in recognising this and jointly committing to improving the student experience and will work with them to change the TEF metrics and the framework itself.
King’s took the decision to raise tuition fees for the next academic year for incoming undergraduates despite the success of the boycott, as every other boycotting institution has in England. We pushed hard to halt the rise in fees, but the decision for the next year is made. Despite the wedge that TEF has caused over fee rises between Students’ Unions and universities, we will push again for the institution not to raise fees.
We believe it is important to continue expanding access to the transformative power of education and will fight for an education that is free and accessible for all. We will continue to lobby Government as an active part of the review of the Teaching Excellence Framework itself with our National Union.
We will also consider whether to boycott the National Student Survey next year based upon whether the Government involves Student Unions in the Parliamentary review of TEF, the College’s decisions on raising fees and the views of our students.