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UEA awarded gold following TEF appeal

Gold bars

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has been awarded a gold ranking in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) following a successful appeal to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

TEF is the Government’s new method of assessing the quality of teaching delivered by higher education providers. The voluntary rankings rate institutions gold, silver or bronze and are designed to give students better information to help them decide what and where to study.

“We are delighted our appeal has been successful as we believe UEA meets the gold standard for teaching excellence. We’ve always maintained a strong focus on teaching, because that’s what really matters to students. The appeals panel agreed and UEA is ranked gold,” said Prof Neil Ward, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at UEA.

TEF’s focus on teaching challenges the traditional rankings, where research-intensive universities have dominated the higher positions.

One of TEF’s key components is the annual National Student Survey (NSS), which gathers undergraduates’ opinions about their course and is one of the most influential sources of information for prospective students. 

UEA Students’ Union sabbatical officer for undergraduate education Mary Leishman said: “It’s great to see that HEFCE has an appeals system that works. Great teaching is what the TEF was supposed to be all about and, given what students say about teaching at UEA, we’re thrilled that this has now been reflected in our gold grading.”

Great teachers do more than pass on learning, they inspire students and help shape their future careers. Dr Eylem Atakav, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, is one such teacher at UEA. Her exceptional contribution was recognised in 2016 when she was appointed a National Teaching Fellow, the foremost accolade a higher education teaching professional can receive. Among her other awards are the 2016 Award for Outstanding Pedagogical Achievement by the Society of Cinema and Media Studies and, in the same year, the Most Inclusive Teacher of the Year Award from UEA Students’ Union.

“You can achieve a lot by thinking differently about education,” she said. “Academics don’t belong in ivory towers, focusing only on their own work. We must understand students and what they want, and involve them in what we do and our professional networks. I believe that it’s vital to take students outside the classroom to inspire them and truly prepare them for the world of work.

“For example, I arranged for a group of students to help run the Golden Island International Film Festival in Cyprus. It was an exciting and challenging project that gave them experience at international level, something study in a classroom alone could never do. I also involved students when I was asked to contribute to a House of Lords report on religion in public life. Students have a lot to offer, and it’s important that we listen to them, which is something I believe we do at UEA.”