Strong performance for Scotland’s universities in the TEF

Today (Thursday, 22nd June) marks the first publication of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) results for universities across the UK and participating universities in Scotland. Five Scottish universities decided to take part in the TEF.

The TEF was introduced by the UK Government in 2016 with the aim of recognising and rewarding excellence in teaching and learning. Participating institutions are awarded a gold, silver or bronze rating for their performance. This is the first year the Framework has rated performance.

The TEF awards are decided by an independent panel of experts including academics, students and employer representatives. Drawing on national data, and evidence submitted by each university or college, the TEF measures excellence in three areas: teaching quality, the learning environment and the educational and professional outcomes achieved by students.

Commenting on the results, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:

“Providing high quality teaching and a high quality learning environment is at the core of every Scottish higher education institution. Scotland has its own distinctive system for ensuring excellence in teaching, which is well-established and widely praised outside Scotland. It is a rigorous model that involves external assessment, includes students as partners in the process, and is based on the principle of continuous enhancement.

“We are delighted that the five Scottish universities which chose to participate in TEF have performed very strongly, receiving gold or silver medals for their teaching. We offer our congratulations on that success. These results recognise the very high quality of higher education that is delivered in Scotland.

“Scotland will remain engaged with TEF as it continues to develop for future years. At the same time, every Scottish institution remains absolutely committed to our existing system for teaching quality which has the full support of our staff and students.”



GOLD: The University of Dundee, Robert Gordon University and The University of St Andrews

SILVER: Abertay University, Heriot-Watt University

  • Participation in the TEF is voluntary across the UK.
  • Nationally, 26 per cent of the 231 institutions entering the TEF received a gold award and 50.2 per cent received silver. This excludes those with provisional ratings.
  • TEF defines Gold as delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK. Silver is awarded for delivering high quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education. Bronze is given for delivering teaching, learning and outcomes for its students that meet rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education.
  • Universities Scotland has been pleased to have close engagement with both the Department for Education and the Scottish Government over the past year to explore how TEF can be sensitive to differences between the Scottish and English higher education contexts. We look forward to continuing that engagement as TEF continues to develop.
  • Scotland’s universities have a different system to ensure quality in learning and teaching called the Quality Enhancement Framework. This system pre-dates the TEF and has been in place since 2003.