Inquiry launched into assessing the quality of Higher Education

17 September 2015

The Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee has launched an inquiry into quality assessment in Higher Education (HE). The inquiry looks into proposed changes to quality assessment in universities and the potential impact of introducing a Teaching Excellence Framework.

Chair's comments

Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said:

"Ministers say they want to develop new incentives to improve teaching quality, tackling what the Government sees as patchiness in provision. The Government faces a number of challenges in seeking to introduce a new Teaching Excellence Framework – not least the challenging timescale it has set – and the Committee will be involved in looking at how this policy area develops from an early stage.

As a Committee, we want to scrutinise the Government’s plans for assessing quality in Higher Education, making sure that any new mechanism is effective and works to strengthen the UK’s world-leading university brand."

Scope of the inquiry

The BIS Committee is keen to hear views and welcomes written submissions which address the following questions:

  1. What issues with quality assessment in Higher Education was the Higher Education Funding Council for England's (HEFCE) Quality Assurance review seeking to address?
  2. Will the proposed changes to the quality assurance process in universities, as outlined by HEFCE in its consultation, improve quality in Higher Education?  
  3. What should be the objectives of a Teaching Excellence Framework ('TEF')?
    a. How should a TEF benefit students? Academics? Universities?
    b. What are the institutional behaviours a TEF should drive? How can a system be designed to avoid unintended consequences?
    c. How should the effectiveness of the TEF be judged?
  4. How should the proposed TEF and new quality assurance regime fit together? 
  5. What do you think will be the main challenges in implementing a TEF? 
  6.  How should the proposed connection between fee level and teaching quality be managed?
    a. What should be the relationship between the TEF and fee level?
    b. What are the benefits or risks of this approach to setting fees?

Deadline for submissions

Written submissions should be sent by 30 October 2015.


Funding bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (HEFCE, HEFCW, DELNI) have been jointly reviewing arrangements for quality assessment in HE. The Scottish Funding Council has also been undertaking a similar review.

Separately to this activity, the Government has announced plans to introduce a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for universities, which it states will "sharpen incentives for providing an outstanding education to students". 

The Government has also indicated that it will allow institutions with high teaching quality to increase tuition fee levels from 2017/18, as indicated in its Productivity Plan (PDF, 919 KB).

Further information 

Image: iStockphoto

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