The balance between teaching and research in the government’s proposals for a Teaching Excellence Framework
What is the problem to which TEF, and the government’s proposed reforms more generally, are the solution?
Falling levels of student satisfaction? UUK figures show that students appear to be increasingly ‘satisfied’ with their university experience. Satisfaction levels of around 80% in 2005 have steadily increased to 84% in 2012, 85% in 2013 and 86% in the most recent figures for 2014. Is it about a decline in research quality or impact? Again, UUK point out that while the UK has just over 4% of the world’s researchers, it has 11.6% of citations and is the leading country for field-weighted citation impact. Is it about falling participation rates? We have seen a 26.5% increase in the numbers of full-time first degree students and a 41.1% increase in postgraduate research students in the last ten years. The total number of students studying at HE institutions has grown by 2.8%, to some 2.3 million people, in the ten years up to 2014. Is it the result of falling rates of graduate employment? Hardly given that graduate employment of 87% is the healthiest it has been since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008 with the highest annual median salaries on record. Perhaps it is because universities are bastions of inefficiency except that UUK estimates that British universities delivered £2.38 billion of efficiency savings between 2005-6 and 2013-14. (UUK 2015: 39). So even using the government’s own preferred criteria of reliable metrics and ‘hard’ data, it is not clear what the central problem is with higher education in the UK.