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Tinker, tailor, policy-maker: can the UK government’s teaching excellence framework deliver its objectives?

Barkas, Linda A.; Scott, Jonathan M.; Poppitt, Nicola J.; Smith, Paul J.


Linda A. Barkas

Jonathan M. Scott

Nicola J. Poppitt

Paul J. Smith


Paul Smith


The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), originally proposed in the UK government’s Higher Education White Paper, now the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, is a national mechanism to assess teaching quality in universities. This article provides a critical account of the TEF, underpinned by an overview of the policy context and marketisation and employability agendas exploring the rationale for implementing TEF within universities. We argue, first, that the White Paper’s narrative, the rhetoric of the TEF, seems positive but its implementation appears to be conceptually flawed. Second, its complex quality metrics system demands yet another layer of bureaucracy in an already micro-managed system of higher education. Third, claims made by the White Paper must be supported by evidence-based research to ensure that the objectives are clear. We conclude by questioning whether the quality of the student experience can be improved by the TEF reforms.


Barkas, L. A., Scott, J. M., Poppitt, N. J., & Smith, P. J. (2019). Tinker, tailor, policy-maker: can the UK government’s teaching excellence framework deliver its objectives?. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 43(6), 801-813.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 18, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 21, 2017
Publication Date 2019
Deposit Date Mar 7, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 22, 2019
Journal Journal of Further and Higher Education
Print ISSN 0309-877X
Electronic ISSN 1469-9486
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 6
Pages 801-813
Keywords Education
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted version of an article published in Journal of Further and Higher Education. The version of record is available at the DOI above.


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