Teaching & Learning


UCL’s Teaching Excellence Framework award published

28 September 2023

The quality of UCL’s education has been recognised as Gold for Student Outcomes, Silver for Student Experience, with an overall rating of Silver under the 2023 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).


The TEF Panel of assessors judged that UCL’s Student Outcomes are ‘Outstanding’, and that the Student Experience is ‘Very High Quality with Outstanding Features’.  

The panel statement identifies a number of positive features: 

  • A systematic and embedded approach to the development of learning resources, including the new Student Centre in Bloomsbury, and the new UCL East campus.  
  • Opportunities for students to experience an education informed by cutting edge research. 
  • Outstanding rates of Continuation and Completion, and an ethos of supporting the wellbeing of all students, from transition and induction to graduation and employment. 
  • Embedded approaches to employability and effective support for students to achieve their ambitions across a developing framework of Educational Gains. 
  • A strong student track record of volunteering. 

The panel also commented on a rising trajectory of performance in student engagement and academic support. These were also strongly supported by the student submission.

The panel identified a number of areas for improvement in Student Experience. These are already being addressed through a range of flagship projects under the Education and Student Experience priorities in UCL's Strategic Plan 2022-27. This includes:   

  • Programme Excellence – to simplify and streamline UCL's portfolio of programmes and modules. 
  • Review of Education and Student experience roles – to create consistent roles in departments and faculties to improve student and staff experiences and support students’ educational gains, including a review of personal tutoring. 
  • Scheduling Transformation Programme - to improve the end-to-end timetabling process by moving to a scheduling approach. 

The 2023 National Student Survey (NSS), published in August, shows that UCL is making good progress in several areas. The Student Voice score is at its highest for over five years and above the Russell Group and Sector average. UCL also performed well in the Learning resources category, achieving a score of 89%, placing us in the 1st quartile in both the Russell Group and the sector, and academic support where our score surpassed the Russell Group and sector average. 

Of course, we also know we have areas where our scores are not yet as high as we would like them to be, and we are working in partnership with our students to bring those scores up to the standards of our best.

UCL’s Vice-Provost (Education & Student Experience) Professor Kathleen Armour said:  

“UCL provides an outstanding research-rich environment for education and one where our students are part of an exciting and stretching academic learning community. We are delighted that so many features of our education have been identified by the TEF panel as outstanding, but we will not be satisfied until we have achieved a Gold rating for all aspects of our provision. We have ambitious projects underway as part of UCL’s strategic plan, and data from the TEF and NSS continue to inform our actions and determination to be outstanding in all that we do.” 

How do the TEF and NSS drive change at UCL?  

Both the TEF and NSS provide a rich source of data, and all staff who teach on a programme have access to them.  

Both quantitative and qualitative data on student satisfaction and outcomes drive each department’s annual Department Education Plan and periodic internal quality reviews.  

In 2022-23 we introduced a new Continuous Module Dialogue (CMD) process to enhance student voice. The process engages staff and students in real-time feedback of their modules, thereby facilitating productive dialogue between staff and students.  

Accessing department and faculty data 

  • UCL’s TEF submissions can be found here. [UCL login required]
  • UCL staff can access NSS Reports, including headline, department and programme results here [UCL login required]. Free text comments from the NSS and the APS have also been circulated to departments and faculties (PGT APS comments coming shortly).  

About the TEF

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national scheme run by the Office for Students (OfS) that 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. 

The TEF does this by assessing and rating universities and colleges for excellence above a set of minimum requirements for quality and standards. The assessment takes place every four years. 

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. 

What is included in the TEF submission?
  • UCL TEF Submission 
  • UCL Students' Union Submission
  • TEF metrics 
About the NSS

The National Student Survey (NSS) is an annual survey in which all final year UK undergraduate students are invited to participate. 

The NSS is managed on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS) by Ipsos MORI, an independent research agency, which runs the NSS during the second term each year. Respondents complete the survey either online or via telephone. 

The 2023 survey ran from 12 January to 30 April 2023. 

Changes to the NSS for 2023

In 2023 several major changes were made to the NSS. A completely new set of 27 questions and question areas was introduced and included the removal of the “Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course,” question.  

The questions are split over nine aspects of the student experience, including learning opportunities, marking and assessment and new for 2023, mental wellbeing services.  

In addition, the response scales to the core questions were revised. Student no longer respond to statements on a five-point ‘Definitely agree > Definitely disagree’ scale, but instead on a four-point scale, which differs between questions.