Goldsmiths and the TEF: implications for teaching and learning, a view by Elisabeth Hill, ProWarden Teaching, Learning, Enhancement

Rather like the proverbial London bus, three significant developments in the HE landscape have just heaved into view in short succession this autumn:  the Green Paper, the Nurse review and the Chancellor’s recent Spending Review.  In similar fashion, the ennui that comes from having waited for a not inconsiderable time (in the rain, usually), rapidly disperses as policymakers wrestle with the implications that will cumulatively, determine the future shape of the sector, indicating a variety of possible itineraries and destinations.   Two of the final destinations (the Nurse review of the existing provision for research and Treasury’s Spending Review) are a little beyond the scope of this paper, but each has implications as broad indications of the direction of future travel.  Perhaps this is where the conceit ends: there is little variety in the topography being sketched out ahead.  A common (and predictable) theme in the changes being posed are to do with advancing students’ interests as those commensurate with those of ‘consumers’: thus a series of mechanisms whose purpose is allow discrimination between the various providers, rewards for those who excel within this ‘market’ and provision to ease access to allow new service-providers into the sector.

At this point, two clear trajectories can be determined.  The headlines will go to the ‘TEF’ and the Green Paper sets out the mechanisms for its operation.  However, as has already been much commented upon, there is a Jekyll-and-Hyde aspect to this facade.  A mechanism to enhance teaching – ever the poor relation to research excellence – will nevertheless be welcome.  The question remains as to the final shape that this mechanism will take and the extent to which the apparatus is capable of making the fine judgements determining teaching excellence.  Commentators have already noted the significant role being undertaken in the incipient TEF framework in relation to the requirements of the legislation governing Competition and Markets, and will also have seen the implicit encouragement being given to the adoption of the system of Grade Point Average, as well as the drive to quantify complex phenomena by using existing (and arguably unsuitable) metrics.  There is much to mull over and we hope that you have been able to follow some of the debates in the accompanying Twitter feed and express your views in the corresponding fora on Goldmine.

Further afield, a second trajectory concerns the implications for the future funding for both students and institutions.  Commentators have observed the potential for the removal of the present cap on fees and the scope for political chicanery that might enable further significant changes to the funding regime to be engineered, alongside those presently being sought by the Treasury as it seeks to package up the student loans business into a saleable asset.  Some of this would appear to run directly counter to the intentions so clearly articulated in the Green Paper to encourage and widen access.


Future planning

The impact on Goldsmiths of the proposed changes is still being determined.  The Learning Teaching and Assessment Strategy (2012-16) is entering its review phase and we start to consult on the next iteration of the plan in the coming year.  Clearly these policy changes will need to be examined, an appropriate response embedded and a way forward, elaborated.  Please look out for the invitation to take part in the review process in the new year.

Much then is up for negotiation and I’d encourage you to make your representation (both as individual and where applicable, as teams) to the Goldsmiths consultation and through the appropriate sector body, where this applies.


Elisabeth Hill, PhD, C.Psychol. ProWarden Learning, Teaching, Enhancement, Goldsmiths, University of London.


If you would prefer your views were not made public on a discussion board, you can respond in confidence via email to Elisabeth Hill, Pro Warden Learning, Teaching, Enhancement at: Please make sure that ‘Green paper staff consultation response’ is included in the subject field.

HE Green Paper here