Imperial awarded Gold in TEF

Deputy President (Education)

Today, the Government announced that Imperial College London has received a ‘Gold’ rating in the first ever set of national rankings according to the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).


You can read College’s coverage of the TEF announcements here.



What is the TEF?


The TEF is intended to ‘recognise and reward excellent learning and teaching’ in British universities.  


Imperial is the only Russell Group university in London to have received a Gold rating, with institutions such as UCL and KCL receiving Silver and LSE receiving Bronze. Of the few London universities to receive Gold, Imperial is the only non-specialist one, with other winners including institutions dedicated solely to specific disciplines such as dance, music and nursing.


Your elected student representatives - led by Nas (Union President) and I - worked with College to co-author an institutional submission which was later reviewed by a panel of TEF assessors. This submission, alongside a set of metrics, was considered in determining which rating College would receive. This was done with the approval of Union Council, who voted overwhelmingly to support Imperial College Union’s active participation in the TEF process.



What does Gold mean?


The TEF rankings will, in the long run, influence whether College’s tuition fees will grow with inflation, or shrink in real terms. Universities with a Gold or Silver ranking will be able to increase fees with inflation until at least the 2020/21 academic year, while universities with Bronze will only be able to increase fees by half of the inflation rate from the 2019/20 academic year onwards.


Imperial’s TEF Gold ranking was rationalised by four main reasons:

  1. Creation of an ‘exceptionally stimulating and stretching’ education that challenges students to fulfill their potential

  2. Development of a ‘range of ways in which students are exposed to and deeply engaged with research’

  3. Maintenance of an ‘outstanding learning environment that supports learning’

  4. Embedding a ‘culture of student engagement and active philosophy of students as partners’.


These reasons, we believe, embody a strong vote of confidence from the assessors.  

However, the TEF is not without its flaws. It is a new framework developed by the government which has now been through its first iteration of being ‘tried and tested’. It’s ability to accurately measure teaching excellence is hotly debated, as is its direct link to controlling fees from 2020 onwards. The TEF relies upon a set of metrics to measure different aspects of teaching excellence, including questions from the National Student Survey (NSS) and Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey.


Our principle of improving the educational experience for all of our members will remain paramount as we continue conversations around the TEF and its implications in future.



So we got Gold. What’s next?


While we welcome this Gold award, there’s always more to do to tackle the problems that Imperial students face and to ensure they are getting the world-class education they deserve and expect.


As we launch Our Strategy 2017-20, our ambitious plan for staying at the forefront of the UK’s students’ unions, we are committing time and money to working hard for you.


  • At the local level, your Academic Representatives will keep working in partnership with departments and faculties to tackle any problems students have with their studies.

  • At an institutional level, Nas & I, and our successors Chippy and Nick, will work closely with Simone - the Vice Provost (Education) - helping to influence and bring to life her new Learning & Teaching Strategy to ensure it always focuses on improving things for you, our members.


  • Also, new for 2017/18, we are investing resources into a new Wellbeing Representation Network, which will radically increase our capacity to tackle the non-academic, social and emotional challenges of being an Imperial student.




If you have any questions or would like to find out more information about this then please contact

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