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Teaching Excellence

What makes us a Gold university?

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) describes its Gold rating as: “The student experience and student outcomes are typically outstanding.”

We’ve used feedback from our students to drive transformation of our approach to teaching. To enhance our academic and pastoral support. And to empower them to achieve their own personal and professional success. 

Excellent teaching 

Competence-based approach

A competency-based approach in higher education is all about shifting our focus from what students know to what they can actually do. Our educational programs go beyond acquiring knowledge. They encompass how students think, act, and take charge of their own learning. In essence, a competence-based program is designed to help them develop as a whole student.

To get our students ready for their futures as a graduate and ensure the relevance and value of their degrees, we:

  • Make sure what they’re learning is relevant in this fast-changing and uncertain world
  • Prepare them for the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Age
  • Help them build essential "human traits" that can't be automated
  • Encourage them to commit to lifelong learning, both professionally and personally
  • Support them in building their own identity and professional profile
  • Ensure that our education is inclusive and accessible to all students, regardless of their background or previous experiences with higher education

3 key elements of our competence-based approach

We aim to help students become independent learners, confident explorers, and critical thinkers. Someone who can thrive in our complex and ever-changing society. Our focus is on giving them the skills and knowledge to excel in any task or field while maintaining autonomy and responsibility.

Disciplinary and professional experience

Taking real-world tasks and practices into account. And addressing them with critical thinking and independent or team work. It's about applying what students have learned in a practical context.

Knowledge management

Students' ability to find, understand, create, and communicate knowledge effectively. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and knowing how to manage it is key.


Self-assessment and self-regulation are crucial in both public and private aspects of their lives. Whether they're working independently or as part of a team. Being aware of their strengths and areas for improvement is essential for personal growth and success.

Transforming programmes

In 2019, we launched an institution-wide curriculum review. This developed a novel, distinctive and effective undergraduate and postgraduate taught portfolio. Our portfolio provides our students with outstanding education and training fit for the 21st century.

This person- and programme-focused approach has been recognised as innovative and significant by JISC and by the QAA. They've recently funded us to explore the implementation of our Competence Framework across the UK higher education sector.

Excellent teaching staff

Over two-thirds of all teaching staff (over 20 percentage points above the sector) have credentials of excellence in teaching and educational leadership through Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

This level of expertise and professionalism in learning and teaching directly affects the outstanding educational experience of our students. (Developed through the Teaching Excellence Academy (TEA), pathways to Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, including National Teaching Fellowship (NTF)).

Inclusive Education Framework

Our Inclusive Education Framework and Assessment Strategy is at the forefront of our curriculum design. We believe that every student should have the same opportunities to excel academically, regardless of their background or circumstances. We're dedicated to creating an environment where every student can thrive and reach their full potential. And that the delivery of our education and support meets their needs and exceeds their expectations. We do this through empathic leadership, staff empowerment, student partnership and clear communication. 

There’s no single solution to inclusivity. So our approach seeks to provide academically rigorous and authentic training in knowledge, skills and behaviours appropriate to the discipline and context. The strategy takes into account the diverse needs of our student body and acknowledges the myriad of ways in which life can impact a student's journey towards success. We want to ensure that our students have every opportunity to succeed, regardless of their unique circumstances.


We take an authentic and inclusive approach to assessment, and it's more than just a way to measure students' progress. It's a tool that can help them develop the essential 21st-century skills that will set them up for success, including critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and innovation.

Our assessments are designed to be practical and engaging. We believe in real-world learning, where students tackle tasks that mirror the challenges they'll face beyond the classroom. These tasks could involve creating projects, building portfolios, writing articles for newsletters or newspapers, designing digital projects, making posters, participating in debates, or delivering presentations.

Learning resources

These include the Brynmor Jones Library, our top quality cultural facilities, and other specialist learning spaces such as the mock hospital ward and operating theatre in the Allam Medical Building.

Our resources help us to offer a breadth of support tailored to the needs of our students and courses. And to support the outstanding teaching and learning we deliver.

Student voice

We value the voices of our students. And we work in genuine partnership with them to offer an outstanding student experience.

Students helped in the redesign of our curriculum through the Transforming Programmes process. As well as working on the Inclusive Education Framework. This ensures the needs of our diverse student populations are met through a wide range of support and tailored learning and assessment.

We recognise and value the expertise, experience and knowledge of our community of students and staff. We're a diverse community of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs, countries and cultures, with different expectations and perceptions about studying and working at the University.

Mechanisms are in place at all levels of the institution, from individual modules and programmes to the University Leadership Team, to engage with, and act on, feedback from our students.

Your questions answered

  • What is the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)?

    The TEF is a national scheme run by the Office for Students (OfS). It aims to encourage higher education providers to improve and deliver excellence in the areas that students care about the most: teaching, learning and achieving positive outcomes from their studies. Student outcomes relates to the extent to which the University’s students succeed in and beyond their studies, and the educational gains delivered for students.

    The TEF does this by assessing and rating universities and colleges for excellence above a set of minimum requirements for quality and standards. Providers that take part in the TEF receive an overall rating as well as two underpinning ratings: one for the student experience, and one for student outcomes. The ratings reflect the extent to which a provider delivers an excellent experience and outcomes for its mix of undergraduate students, and across the range of its undergraduate courses and subjects.

  • Why is the TEF important?

    It’s important that all students, whatever their background, can have confidence that they will receive a high-quality higher education and positive outcomes. The TEF encourages universities and colleges to deliver excellent teaching and learning for all their students and, if they don't, this will affect their ability to achieve the highest ratings.

    The TEF ratings create an incentive to improve by putting a spotlight on the quality of a provider's courses, influencing providers' reputations and informing student choice. Students are encouraged to use TEF ratings – which provide a clear signal of a provider's excellence – as useful context to the range of more detailed information they will want to consider when deciding what and where to study.

  • What do the ratings mean?

    There are three rating categories signifying increasing degrees of excellence above the TEF’s minimum quality requirements: Bronze, Silver and Gold.

    Where there is an absence of excellence, a TEF rating will not be awarded. The published outcome will signal that the provider ‘Requires improvement’ to be awarded a TEF rating.


    The student experience and outcomes are typically outstanding.


    The student experience and outcomes are typically very high quality, and there may be some outstanding features.


    The student experience and outcomes are typically high quality, and there are some very high-quality features.

    Requires improvement

    The provider was assessed in TEF and no rating was awarded. Improvement is required for a TEF rating.

  • How are the TEF ratings decided?

    The TEF is a desk-based, expert review exercise. The TEF panel, which is made up of academics and students who are experts in learning and teaching, conducts the assessments and makes decisions about ratings.

    The panel considers a combination of evidence sources: evidence submitted by a provider, evidence submitted by its students (where available), and numerical indicators we produce from national datasets.

  • How long does the award last?

    The TEF rating was awarded in 2023 and will last for four years, at which point the review will take place again and a new rating will be awarded.