RAPPORT, Volume 2, Issue 1 RAPPORT Issue 1 version4FINALSO - Page 8

RAPPORT WWW.RECORDINGACHIEVEMENT.AC.UK Issue 1 (2017) increase competition 2 . An analysis of the ideological underpinnings of these policies is merited, but for now our shorthand guide to the reader is to suggest that, in accordance with this official view of higher education, the TEF can be a tool to provide students (customers), employers (stakeholders) and the government (regulator) with the information each needs to make choices (to buy, to invest or to set the basic rules), akin to the need for the prices of commodities to be constantly on view at the Stock Exchange. The TEF will also be the mechanism by which the quality of teaching can be linked to the funding of institutions (ratings will be used to authorise increases in fees) and the Government even foresees, as a natural occurrence, that some institutions may have their courses closed down or that they may even exit the system (BIS, 2016a, p. 10). The proposed timetable (see table 1 below) suggests that HE in the UK must move quickly to define their institutional response to these rapidly implemented changes. Table 1: Brief summary of the proposed timeline of implementation, according to the White Paper (BIS, 2016a). All providers with a successful Year 1 QAA[1] award -> ‘Meets (2016/17): expectations’. Y2 Trial year. Voluntary applications. (2017/18): Assessments at institutional level. Y3 Assessment at institutional level (2018/19): and pilots at subject level. Y4 (2019/20) Assessments at subject level. Whereas the White Paper (BIS, 2016a) acknowledges that measuring teaching excellence is a difficult issue and includes three areas namely (a) teaching itself, (b) the environment, and (c) the outcomes, the Green Paper had specified the following metrics and indicated some of the sources that would be used to measure these: student satisfaction (National Student Survey), retention (collated by the Higher Education Statistics Agency), employment /destination (Destination of Leavers of Higher Education Survey), teaching intensity and engagement with study, and learning gain (no specific sources were identified for these metrics). The Government makes an important admission in recognising the complexity of identifying meaningful indicators, by stating that the metrics are mostly proxies. It also nods to the importance of a ‘qualitative element’ which will contain additional evidence offering institutions the opportunity to present additional information to contextualise the quantitative metrics of teaching excellence. We consider that the TEF, and the reform of HE of which it is part, do not contain a clear definition of teaching excellence nor is it based by a clear conceptual understanding of what teaching and learning are all about. Valid evaluative judgements about the proposed metrics can be made once greater clarity about the notion of teaching quality and the process of leaching and learning has been reached. 2 In the UK, the vast majority of universities are entirely funded by the state (i.e. tuition fees are subsidised by the Government). There are only five private universities. Defining Teaching Excellence Although there have been several attempts to bring clarity to the notion of TE (e.g. Chickering & Gamson, 1999: Gibbs, 2010), we believe, with Gunn and Fiske (2013), that there is still a lack sophistication in how TE is conceptualised. Therefore, in this paper we would like to go back to basics and start by defining TE. We would to 7