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Controversy around new teaching framework

November 28th, 2016 | by Isabel Sykes
Controversy around new teaching framework
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Controversy surrounds government plans to rank universities using a new Teaching Excellence Framework, which will become available in Spring 2017.

The framework will rank universities bronze, silver, and gold. Highly ranked universities will be allowed to raise tuition fees above £9000 per year.

The raise of tuition fees in line with inflation will start affecting students applying in Autumn 2018.

Afterwards, these highly ranked institutions will be able to then raise tuition fees again the following year.

Tuition fees will not change for academic years 2016 and 2017.

According to GOV.UK, the Teaching Excellence Framework is designed to help students make well-informed choices when applying to university.

The ranking system will give them an idea as to the quality of education they can receive at different institutions.

Linking funding to teaching quality is also intended to incentivise high-quality teaching and ensure that students are receiving the best possible academic experience.

As the new scheme will affect universities country wide, The Courier investigated how it has been received at Newcastle University.

NUSU Education Officer, Chris Duddy expressed concerns that plans seem “uncertain.”

He said: “The university is not happy with the Teaching Excellence Framework.

“The students aren’t happy with the Teaching Excellence Framework.

“The academics specifically aren’t impressed with the Teaching Excellence Framework.”

Institutions will be assessed on the three aspects: teaching quality, learning environment and student outcome.

Each category includes metrics based on results from the National Student Survey to provide additional data for assessors, especially assessing student achievements.

For example, new skills learned and progression onto work or further study.

So far, the scheme has not been well received by public.

The National Union of Students is opposed to the Teaching Excellence Framework, and students and university staff across the country have been vocal in opposing the scheme, with particular worries regarding escalating tuition fees.

Lecturer Stacy Gillis elaborated on staff concerns.

Gills said: “There is a concern about another layer of scrutiny, of management, and of accountability.”

She said that while the scheme sounded positive in theory – “after all, we all want to do strong and engaging teaching” – there was a danger that the Teaching Excellence Framework could “reduce teaching to a series of tick-box exercises, solely focused on the outcome, rather than the process.”

The effects of the Teaching Excellence Framework will be visible as early as next year, when the results of university assessments are released.

While the scheme has been designed with the intention of improving
education standards, there is certainly room for concern regarding rising costs for students, and the effects of increased scrutiny on teaching and learning
environments.

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