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The Society for Research into Higher Education

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Green shoots before the Green/White Paper

By Rob Cuthbert

Over the Summer the new(ish) English Minister for HE, Jo Johnson, has been making speeches about his plans for a Teaching Excellence Framework, with hints about what it might contain. But only now, as SRHE News goes to press in mid-October, is a Green, or perhaps White, Paper expected. Clearly these things are easier to talk about in broad terms at election time than to lay out in specific terms six months later.

It was easy to see why the Government want to bring in a Teaching Excellence Framework. We already had a Research Excellence Framework, and outgoing Minister David Willetts was making increasingly apocalyptic statements about teaching quality both before and after he ‘stepped down’ from office. Nobody is against excellent teaching, so a pledge to reward it was an ideal manifesto-filler: it didn’t give any ground on undergraduate student fees, and it might even have placated some students (and their parents) about the value for money of their £9000 a year investment. And of course it might be possible, when we get to the detail, to justify uncapping fees completely for at least some of the Russell Group, and perhaps even to take more money off the rest, as the REF and the RAE have tried so hard to do.

This wasn’t, of course, where we started from. Continue reading

Ian Mc Nay


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Teaching Excellence Framework

By Ian McNay

This contribution is adapted from a paper first written to brief the trustees of Coventry Students’ Union, and just before a THE feature on senior staff from Coventry. So, it emphasises the need for a student involvement in assessing teaching excellence, but the messages have resonance for the rest of us, I hope. There are four basic questions to ask:

  • How do we define excellence/s? (The plural is important; excellence is contingent, it varies by purpose)
  • How do we measure it? Output and outcomes may be easy; process less so
  • How do we encourage and develop it?
  • How do we reward it?

None have yet been answered, even at a basic level.

Jo Johnson’s speeches to UUK had some good points, but Continue reading