24 June 2017

The publication of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rating in the UK has caused surprise and consternation in many universities and higher education providers.

The exercise was carried out by the Higher Education Funding Council for England although it did include some universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Participation was voluntary although the results will be used to decide whether providers can raise their tuition fees. Results were benchmarked against the characteristics of the student intake.

The framework is an attempt to evaluate universities according to teaching quality rather than research output. There are six criteria, teaching quality, assessment and feedback, academic support, non-continuation, employment or further study, and highly skilled employment or further study. The first three are based on the National Student Survey and the others are derived from data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Individualised Learner Record, and Destination of Leavers from Higher Education.

Universities and other providers of higher education are categorized into three groups, Gold, meaning “provision is consistently outstanding and of the highest quality found in the UK Higher Education sector”, Silver, indicating “provision is of high quality, and significantly and consistently exceeds the baseline quality threshold expected of UK Higher Education”, and Bronze, awarded where “provision is of satisfactory quality.”

The gold category included some smaller specialised schools and those institutions not known for their research prowess such as Blackpool and the Fylde College, Cleveland College of Art and Design, Norwich University of the Arts and the University of Huddersfield.

Meanwhile three members of the prestigious Russell Group, the University of Southampton, the London School of Economics and the University of Liverpool were awarded bronze medals. This was particularly galling for the latter since the less highly regarded Liverpool Hope University and Liverpool John Moores University won gold and silver respectively.

It is noticeable that reputable London universities did not do as well as they do in global rankings, partly because of poor ratings for student satisfaction. Imperial College was exceptional in winning a gold medal while King’s College, University College and Queen Mary University of London had to settle for silver.


IREG Initiatives

With the fast development of science and technology, as well as the internationalization of scientific activities, international academic awards have been more and more popular and influential. Numerous international academic awards have been established to provide individuals with incentives and motivation for new academic work and to reward past excellent academic accomplishments.


The purpose of the IREG Ranking Audit, conducted by independent experts, is to verify and attest that ranking under review is done professionally, with a transparent methodology, observes good practices and responds to a need for relevant information of various stakeholders, in particular students, higher education institutions, employers and policy makers.


National and international academic rankings play ever increasing role as a barometer of quality of higher education institutions. The purpose of "IREG Inventory of National Rankings" is to collect and make available on the IREG Observatory website information on the current state and scope of this important group of rankings.


The purpose of the IREG Guidelines for Stakeholders of Academic Rankings is to provide recommendations for appropriate interpretations, uses and applications of rankings by potential interested parties, including students and parents, institutions of higher education, policymakers, quality assurance and funding organizations, employers and the media. Specific recommendations have been formulated for each group of stakeholders.


News from IREG Members

The worldwide ranking UI GreenMetric Workshop in Bologna

This Bologna workshop is aimed to highlight the commitment of Italian universities towards a sustainable 360° approach. UI GM Chairperson, Riri Fitri Sari, will showcase the ranking’s structure and indicators in details. Italian participants are warmly invited to ask questions and raise issues concerning the specificity of the Italian universities to fit into the UI GreenMetric ranking. The Alma Mater Studiorum assumes the role of National Network Hub for UI GM in the framework of this event that will also host experts from RUS (Rete delle Università per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile).

Ranking conference in Warsaw

Polish universities feel, they deserve a better place in international rankings. To discuss what can and should be done to improve the quality of research, rectors of best universities in the country gathered 1-2 December in Warsaw at the conference “Polish Universities in International Perspective – Rankings and Strategic Management of University” organized by Perspektywy Education Foundation jointly with the Conference of Rectors (CRASP) and Polish Accreditation Commission (PAC).

Conference on Universities’ Reputation

Spanish Universidad de Navarra organizes the International Conference BUILDING UNIVERSITIES' REPUTATION Understanding the Student Perspective – Key to a Reputation Strategy, Pamplona, Spain 30-31 March 2017. www.unav.edu/bur

Report on Activities of IREG Observatory 2015-1016

Dr. Jan Sadlak, President of IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence at the General Assembly held in Lisbon on 6 May 2016 presented a detailed report on activities of the organization, the President and members of the Executive Committee in the period: May 2015 – May 2016.

You may ready the report HERE.

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