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The University of Bristol is ‘pleased’ as the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) recognised its ‘outstanding teaching’ by ranking it as a ‘Silver’ in its first official results released today.

A spokesperson from the university told Epigram: ‘We know we offer our students a world-class education, and we are pleased with much of the feedback from the TEF process. The TEF panel recognised many aspects of our outstanding teaching and learning provision, including the excellent outcomes achieved by our students and the exceptional employability of our graduates.’

Professor Judith Squires, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, added: ‘We welcome the introduction of the TEF and would like to thank the panel for their comments, which recognise many aspects of our outstanding teaching provision.

‘In important areas that students and their parents care about, such as teaching quality, academic outcomes, the calibre of our intake and the employability of our graduates, we are one of the strongest institutions in the country. Through our new University Strategy and working in partnership with our students, we are investing in a range of exciting new initiatives to further enhance teaching and our students’ experience.’

The TEF ranks universities as either ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ or ‘Gold’ based on indicators such as quality of teaching, student experience, employment after graduation and drop-out rate. It aims to give more focus to student satisfaction amid concerns that universities focus too much on research, treating their students as a secondary concern.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said that the result ‘confirmed’ the strength of Further and Higher Education in Bristol as the University of Bristol, Bristol College and the University of the West of England (UWE) all received a silver ranking.

The result complements the University of Bristol’s other recent rankings. It was recently ranked 9th in the UK and 44th in the world by the QS World Rankings – one of the most respected international university rankings –  whilst it climbed eleven places in the Guardian University Guide, the highest climb of any university this year.

Universities to also be awarded ‘Silver’ include the University of Greenwich (ranked between 601st and 800th in the world) and the University of Chester (who do not have a world ranking).

Aston University, which ranks between 351st and 400th in the world, received ‘Gold’, whilst the University of Southampton, a Russell Group University ranking 121st in the world, received ‘Bronze’.

Over half of Russell Group Universities were not awarded ‘Gold’, prompting concerns amongst university leaders about the metrics used.

The University of Bristol added: ‘This TEF process was a pilot and there has been discussion across the sector about the suitability of some of the metrics used. We want the TEF to be as comprehensive as possible and we will be taking part in the government’s promised review to achieve that goal.’

Nevertheless, recognising the importance of student satisfaction, the university reiterated its commitment to ongoing improvements. These include an extra £1 million investment in pastoral care and mental health support, a remodelled campus with a new library and multi-purpose student facility as well as an additional campus in Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, plus new and refurbished student centres.

The TEF was the centre of student controversy in the 2016/17 academic year as its results, accumulated partly from the National Student Survey (NSS), would contribute to a decision on whether to raise tuition fees or not.

University Student Unions across the UK pledged to ‘boycott the NSS’, protesting the link between the TEF and tuition fees. The University of Bristol’s completion rate was 47%, under the 50% required for the results to be valid.

The government said in 2015 that the main purpose of the TEF was to ‘create a culture where teaching has equal status with research’, and that students can be sure to receive ‘excellent teaching that encourages original thinking, drives up engagement and prepares them for the world of work’.

The TEF was introduced in 2015, but 2017 marks the first release of official results.

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