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TEF picture Sept 28

University Centre awarded TEF Silver Very High Quality status

York College University Centre is today celebrating being awarded an overall Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rating of Silver.

Overseen by the Office for Students, the TEF ranks Higher Education providers in the UK into four categories with Silver being the second highest behind Gold and followed by Bronze and Requires Improvement.

A Silver rating determines that the student experience and student outcomes at York College University Centre are of a "typically very high quality".

To put our University Centre’s achievement into context, prestigious Russell Group members Durham University, King's College London, the University of Leeds, University College London, the University of Manchester, the University of Nottingham, London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Birmingham, the University of Bristol and the University of Southampton were also awarded an overall status of Silver following the release of the national ratings this morning.

The TEF assessment covered a period of four years up to September 2023 and the rating will now apply until September 2027.

It is based on evidence presented in provider and student submissions, while taking into account TEF indicators and “size and shape” data.

York College University Centre also achieved a Silver grading when we were last rated in 2017.

In the latest report, the TEF stated: “The panel considered there to be compelling evidence that the very high-quality features apply to all the provider’s groups of students, including students from underrepresented groups.”

Commenting on the TEF assessment, York College & University Centre Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Principal Ken Merry said: “I am delighted that the very high-quality Higher Education offer at York College has been recognised with TEF Silver. This is a tremendous achievement considering the extensive scrutiny the Office for Students has put on the quality of Higher Education provision across the country.

“The Teaching Excellent Framework process for 2023 was extremely rigorous, and the threshold for very high quality has been raised significantly since the last time TEF assessments were completed.”

Analysing student experience, it was determined that the University Centre offered a Very High Quality provision in the following areas:

  • Teaching, assessment and feedback
  • Course, content and delivery; student engagement in learning and stretch
  • Staff professional development and academic practice
  • Learning environment and academic support
  • Learning resources
  • Student engagement in improvement

Analysing student outcomes, meanwhile, it was concluded that the University Centre offered a Very High Quality provision in the following areas:

  • Approaches to reporting student success
  • Continuation and completion rates

In regard to Teaching, assessment and feedback, the University Centre’s high levels of tutor contact and provision of one-to-one support was highlighted.

For Course, content and delivery; student engagement in learning and stretch, specific mention was made to the simulation of the working environment; the HOW2 coaching platform; learning and employer visits; specialist workshops; the number of Higher Education staff who are also employed in the sector and the links with external stakeholders that are facilitating apprentice recruitment.

In terms of Staff professional development and academic practice, our mentoring programme for teacher training and the eight characteristics of learning were considered to be examples of very high-quality approaches.

Team Collaboration Time, enrichment activities including guest speaker visits and cross-College CPD were also deemed to be contributing to “a culture of continuous improvement”, along with the support for staff seeking to gain higher level qualifications.

Among the evidence listed for very high-quality Learning environment and academic support was trainee PGCE teachers acting as academic mentors to students struggling or requiring additional support; one-to-one study skills support sessions; the Student Experience Hub; the work of the Well-being team and its drop-in service; the HE bursary and HE hardship fund and the partnership with the Trussell Trust foodbank.

For Learning resources, particular reference was made to areas dedicated to HE and Professional students for studying and socialising.

The provision of acting studios, fashion workshops and our advanced manufacturing laboratory, co-designed with Taylors of Harrogate to simulate an industrial environment, were acclaimed too.

Proof of Student engagement in improvement was cited in the introduction of a new Level 5 module in Cybersecurity following a demand suggested through feedback and it was felt that students can engage in college decision-making through focus groups, meetings with student representatives, end-of-module surveys, email and discussion forums on Teams, College-wide student experience surveys and meetings between the Strategic Leadership Team and the Students’ Union.

Examples given for the University Centre’s Approaches to supporting student success encompassed interview workshops with local businesses and the multiple employment and careers progression visits and festival events, where employers are welcomed into College to talk to students and advertise opportunities.