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Ticking the TEF

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is the government’s new framework to assess the teaching quality of universities. The TEF aims to provide students with clear information about outstanding teaching quality, and will send powerful signals to prospective students and their future employers.

If you know anything about the Creative Skillset Tick then this will sound very familiar to you. This is exactly what the Creative Skillset Tick does for creative courses across the UK; it provides clear information to students about where teaching quality is outstanding and sends powerful signals to prospective students and their future employers.

Where does TEF come from?

The idea of the TEF came out of the Higher Education and Research bill which is still making its way through parliament. The TEF is about to enter year one of its implementation and it isn’t actually until year three in 18/19, that we will start to see the TEF working at subject level and influencing fees. The White Paper: Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice outlines the development of the TEF in a high level overview across years one to four, and covers the operation of the TEF in year one. At the moment they are in consultation mode for what year two looks like and Creative Skillset has just submitted their Technical Consultation in response, see Everything you need to know about the TEF for more detail.

Creative Skillset's response

In the response we welcome the criteria outlined in the TEF Technical consultation as a means of assessing excellence in teaching and learning within a university. These include teaching quality, learning environment and student outcomes and learning gain. We believe that they provide a good foundation for the ambitions of the TEF to achieve their aims.

However, we believe that a far stronger link in the TEF criteria, metrics and supporting evidence needs to be made with employer-led professional body accreditation, such as the Tick, at a subject level in order to strengthen the TEF. Not just for the Creative Industries but across other sectors, where professional accreditation exists. Read a summary of our response and recommendations here.

Mirroring the Tick

The TEF will mirror, nearly word for word, the Tick accreditation criteria. The Tick accreditation is devised in consultation with industry and education and recognises higher education courses that provide excellence in teaching and learning of skills and knowledge relevant to the Creative Industries. Each accredited course undergoes a rigorous assessment by industry professionals in order to be awarded the Creative Skillset Tick – a quality mark indicating the courses best suited to prepare new entrants for a career in the Creative Industries. 

The Tick is one of the largest employer-led professional accreditation schemes covering over 10 Creative Industries. It is hard to get – with an average of only 1 in 3 courses gaining successful accreditation. It enables employers to recruit the brightest talent as they can be assured that graduates from Tick courses have the skills needed to make their company thrive.

Reflecting the aims and ambitions of the TEF, the Tick aims to provide clarity to students, parents and careers advisors regarding which courses will teach them the professional skills to graduate work-ready for the Creative Industries.

In summary, we believe there is tangible benefit in the professional accreditation of degrees such as the Creative Skillset Tick, being formally recognised and adopted within the TEF. This should be included at course level as a quality mark of employability.