Gold, silver and bronze awarded to Devon colleges and universities in new league table

Devon’s colleges and universities have been ranked gold, silver or bronze in a new league table revealed for the first time this morning.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) awards rankings based on factors including graduate employability, teaching and education, and student satisfaction.

Some top universities have criticised the first major assessment of higher education teaching standards after many leading institutions failed to achieve the highest award.

The University of Exeter, Exeter College and City College Plymouth are among those being awarded the gold standard. The University of St mark and St John was given silver.

Plymouth University and Plymouth College of Art both picked up a bronze.

More than half of Russell Group institutions – considered among the best in the country – that entered the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) did not score a gold rating.

University of Exeter Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, said: “We are naturally delighted to have been awarded the Gold rating, as part of the national Teaching Excellence Framework.

“It is vital that the Higher Education sector evolves to meet the changing demands and expectations from students, in both learning and teaching. The TEF is designed to ensure that high-quality teaching receives the merits it deserves, in the same way that the Research Excellence Framework does for world-class research.

“At Exeter, we are absolutely committed to not only providing world-class research-inspired teaching and inquiry-led learning for all our students, but also aiding them at a time when they are making some of the biggest decisions of their lives. This Gold rating recognises not just this commitment, but crucially that we deliver this promise to those it matters to most – out students both now and in the future.”

One leading institution, Southampton, which was awarded bronze, confirmed it will be looking to appeal the decision.

The Russell Group said it does not believe the TEF measures “absolute quality” and that would-be students need clear guidance about what the results mean and how they should be used.


The report commends Gold-rated University College South Devon for its strong student engagement and for recognising that the student voice is critical and is considered during the early stages in the delivery of modules. It highlights the excellent employability support on offer to students, with focus on ensuring that all students achieve positive outcomes post study. The report also praises UCSD for its excellent educational culture, ensuring that staff have development opportunities to support them in delivering excellent higher education teaching.

Alastair Wilson, Higher Education Manager and Academic Registrar at UCSD said, “Receiving the TEF Gold rating is further endorsement of the high standards of teaching, learning and support delivered at UCSD. It builds on the successful review of our higher education provision by the Quality Assurance Agency in Devon and Cornwall completed in 2015. We value the TEF as an effective mechanism for evaluating the standards required to deliver an outstanding higher education provision.”

Stephen Criddle, Principal, said “This is really great recognition for the College, with the report noting our excellent educational culture, exemplary processes, strong student engagement and excellent employability support in particular. I am delighted for all staff involved in our increasing Higher Education work and for future students who will benefit from our gold medal approach”

City College Plymouth Principal Phil Davies said: “I am absolutely delighted that the hard work of our students and staff has been recognised by these accolades.

“The fact that City College is first in the South West for apprenticeship provision and the only provider of higher education to gain the TEF gold award in the city of Plymouth is something we should all be immensely proud of.

“Our students invest significant amounts of time and money in their higher education studies. They rightly expect a high-quality learning experience and outcomes that reflect their potential.

“The UK already has a high bar for quality and standards, which all universities and colleges must meet. However, the TEF assesses excellence above and beyond this, clearly showing the highest levels across the sector.”

But Coventry University, a newer institution which scored a gold, said the TEF showed that universities cannot rely on their “historic reputation”.

The TEF was introduced by the last government in a bid to gain more evidence about teaching and learning in UK universities, with proposals to link quality to tuition fee increases.

Universities which choose to enter are assessed on a range of measures, including student satisfaction, drop-out rates and what students do after they graduate.

Overall, 295 universities, colleges and alternative education providers took part, with 26% (59 institutions) gaining a gold award, 50% (116) rated silver and 24% (56) achieving bronze.

These figures exclude institutions that received a provisional award because there was not enough data for a full assessment.

University of St Mark and St John Vice-Chancellor Rob Warner said: “To be ranked silver for our quality of teaching is a reflection of our successful students and the support they receive from our talented and dedicated staff.

“From our one-to-one academic advisors to our lecturers, and our careers support network, we all recognise that our primary goal is to support students to succeed.

“Every student has their own needs and their own ambitions, and we succeed because we work with every student as an individual. We are small enough to tailor support, meaning that year after year we help our students to realise ambitions that they once saw as simply dreams.”

A breakdown shows that among 134 universities and specialist higher education institutions alone that were given ratings – which are valid for three years – 32% (43) scored gold, 50% (67) silver and 18% (24) got bronze.

And an analysis shows that among the 21 Russell Group universities that took part, eight (38%) were given a gold rating, 10 (48%) were awarded silver and three (14%) got a bronze.

A gold award means that a university is of the highest quality found in the UK, providing “consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students”, while the silver award was given for consistently exceeding “rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education” and bronze was given to those that meet these national requirements.

Those awarded a bronze or higher – all institutions that took part besides those rated provisional – are now set to be able to raise tuition fees, which currently stand at around £9,000 – in line with inflation in 2018/19.

Madeleine Atkins, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which published the results, said: “Students currently invest significant amounts of time, and indeed money and incurring debt in their higher education.

“They are quite right to expect a high-quality academic experience.”

She added: “To hold any TEF award universities and colleges must already have cleared a high bar. The TEF measures excellence over and above this bar.”

Acting Director of the Russell Group Dr Tim Bradshaw warned: “The announcement earlier this year of an independent review of the TEF process was welcome. We want applicants to have all the information they need to take the right choice for them but there is more work to be done here.

“TEF does not measure absolute quality and we have raised concerns that the current approach to flags and benchmarking could have a significant unintended impact.”

As the results were published, one of the Group’s institutions, Southampton said it will be looking to appeal its bronze rating, adding it believed it had made a good case for a higher award.

The University’s president and vice-chancellor Sir Christopher Snowden said: “Our own student satisfaction metrics, including satisfaction with teaching, are better than some of those universities who have been awarded silver and gold today.”

Professor John Latham, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, which is not part of the Russell Group, said a “new order” has been established in university rankings.

“It’s a clear message that universities must work harder for a recognised environment of success and that students are looking for more than historic reputation.

“They want to be taught by committed professionals who care about preparing them for the global workplace.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said there are concerns about how international students will view the results.

“The fear is that students, beyond the UK in particular, will use these results as the basis for deciding which UK university to attend, which could damage some institutions,” she said.

TEF Panel chair Professor Chris Husbands said that within individual awards, universities may have elements of others – for example a university awarded bronze could have elements of gold or silver, adding he hoped the TEF would provide clear ratings to be used with other information.


:: University of Abertay Dundee – Silver

:: ABI College Limited – Provisional

:: Abingdon and Witney College – Silver

:: The Academy of Contemporary Music Limited – Provisional

:: Access to Music Limited – Provisional

:: Accrington and Rossendale College – Bronze

:: Activate Learning – Silver

:: ALRA – Provisional

:: Amersham & Wycombe College – Bronze

:: Anglia Ruskin University – Silver

:: Anglo-European College of Chiropractic – Silver

:: Architectural Association (Incorporated) – Provisional

:: The Arts University Bournemouth – Gold

:: University of the Arts, London – Silver

:: Askham Bryan College – Bronze

:: Assemblies of God Incorporated – Provisional

:: Aston University – Gold

:: Aylesbury College – Bronze

:: Bangor University – Gold

:: The University of Bath – Gold

:: Bath Spa University – Silver

:: University of Bedfordshire – Silver

:: BIMM Limited – Provisional

:: Birkbeck College – Silver

:: The University of Birmingham – Gold

:: University College Birmingham – Silver

:: Birmingham City University – Silver

:: Bishop Burton College – Bronze

:: Bishop Grosseteste University – Gold

:: Blackburn College – Bronze

:: Blackpool and the Fylde College – Gold

:: BMC (Brooksby Melton College) – Bronze

:: The University of Bolton – Silver

:: Bournemouth University – Silver

:: Bournville College – Provisional

:: BPP University Limited – Bronze

:: The University of Bradford – Silver

:: Bradford College – Bronze

:: University of Brighton – Silver

:: University of Bristol – Silver

:: Bristol Baptist College – Provisional

:: Brit College Limited – Provisional

:: The British School of Osteopathy – Bronze

:: Brunel University London – Silver

:: The University of Buckingham – Gold

:: Buckinghamshire New University – Bronze

:: Calderdale College – Silver

:: University of Cambridge – Gold

:: Cambridge Regional College – Bronze

:: Canterbury Christ Church University – Silver

:: Canterbury College – Silver

:: Cardiff Metropolitan University – Silver

:: Cardiff University – Silver

:: Cardinal Newman College – Provisional

:: University of Central Lancashire – Silver

:: University of Chester – Silver

:: The University of Chichester – Silver

:: Chichester College – Silver

:: The Chicken Shed Theatre Trust – Silver

:: Cirencester College – Provisional

:: City and Guilds of London Art School Limited – Provisional

:: City College Plymouth – Gold

:: City of Bristol College – Silver

:: The City of Liverpool College – Gold

:: City, University of London – Silver

:: Cleveland College of Art and Design – Gold

:: Colchester Institute – Silver

:: The Conservatoire for Dance and Drama – Gold

:: Cornwall College – Silver

:: Courtauld Institute of Art – Silver

:: Coventry University – Gold

:: University for the Creative Arts – Silver

:: Croydon College – Provisional

:: The University of Cumbria – Bronze

:: CWR – Provisional

:: Darlington College – Silver

:: De Montfort University – Gold

:: University of Derby – Gold

:: Doncaster College – Bronze

:: University of Dundee – Gold

:: University of Durham – Silver

:: Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College – Provisional

:: The University of East Anglia – Silver

:: East Durham College – Silver

:: East End Computing & Business College Limited – Provisional

:: East Kent College – Provisional

:: University of East London – Bronze

:: East Riding College – Bronze

:: Edge Hill University – Gold

:: The Edward James Foundation Limited – Provisional

:: The University of Essex – Gold

:: University College of Estate Management – Provisional

:: University of Exeter – Gold

:: Exeter College – Gold

:: Fairfield School of Business Ltd – Provisional

:: Falmouth University – Gold

:: Fareham College – Provisional

:: Farnborough College of Technology – Bronze

:: Furness College – Silver

:: Futureworks Training Limited – Provisional

:: Gateshead College – Silver

:: University of Gloucestershire – Silver

:: Goldsmiths’ College – Bronze

:: Grafton College Limited – Provisional

:: Greater Brighton Metropolitan College – Silver

:: University of Greenwich – Silver

:: Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education – Bronze

:: Guildhall School of Music & Drama – Silver

:: Hadlow College – Bronze

:: Halesowen College – Silver

:: Harper Adams University – Gold

:: Hartlepool College of Further Education – Silver

:: Hartpury College – Gold

:: Heart of Worcestershire College – Silver

:: Hereford College of Arts – Silver

:: Heriot-Watt University – Silver

:: Hertford Regional College – Silver

:: University of Hertfordshire – Silver

:: Highbury College Portsmouth – Bronze

:: Holy Cross College – Provisional

:: Hopwood Hall College – Bronze

:: The University of Huddersfield – Gold

:: Hugh Baird College – Gold

:: The University of Hull – Silver

:: Hull College – Bronze

:: Hy Education Limited – Provisional

:: ICMP Management Limited – Provisional

:: Imperial College London – Gold

:: Kaplan Open Learning (Essex) Limited – Silver

:: University of Keele – Gold

:: Kensington Education Foundation Limited – Provisional

:: The University of Kent – Gold

:: The Kingham Hill Trust – Provisional

:: King’s College London – Silver

:: Kingston College – Silver

:: Kingston Maurward College – Bronze

:: Kingston University – Bronze

:: Kirklees College – Silver

:: KLC Limited – Provisional

:: The University of Lancaster – Gold

:: The University of Law Limited – Gold

:: The University of Leeds – Gold

:: Leeds Beckett University – Silver

:: Leeds City College – Bronze

:: Leeds College of Art – Silver

:: Leeds Trinity University – Silver

:: The University of Leicester – Silver

:: Leicester College – Gold

:: University of Lincoln – Gold

:: Lincoln College – Silver

:: The University of Liverpool – Bronze

:: Liverpool Hope University – Gold

:: The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts – Gold

:: Liverpool John Moores University – Silver

:: University College London – Silver

:: London Bridge Business Academy Limited – Provisional

:: London College of Creative Media Limited – Provisional

:: The London Institute of Banking & Finance – Provisional

:: London Metropolitan University – Bronze

:: London School of Business and Management Limited – Provisional

:: The London School of Economics and Political Science – Bronze

:: London School of Management Education Limited – Provisional

:: London School of Science & Technology Limited – Provisional

:: London School of Theology – Provisional

:: London South Bank University – Silver

:: London Studio Centre Limited – Silver

:: Loughborough College – Silver

:: Loughborough University – Gold

:: Luther King House Educational Trust – Provisional

:: Macclesfield College – Provisional

:: The University of Manchester – Silver

:: LTE Group – Silver

:: Manchester Metropolitan University – Silver

:: Met Film School Limited – Provisional

:: Middlesbrough College – Gold

:: Middlesex University – Silver

:: Milton Keynes College – Bronze

:: Moorlands College – Provisional

:: Myerscough College – Silver

:: Nazarene Theological College – Provisional

:: NCG – Silver

:: Neath Port Talbot College – Silver

:: Nelson College London Limited – Provisional

:: New College Durham – Bronze

:: New College Stamford – Silver

:: Newbury College – Provisional

:: University of Newcastle upon Tyne – Gold

:: Newham College of Further Education – Provisional

:: Newman University – Silver

:: Norland College Limited – Provisional

:: North East Surrey College of Technology (NESCOT) – Bronze

:: North Hertfordshire College – Silver

:: North Lindsey College – Silver

:: North West Regional College – Provisional

:: The University of Northampton – Gold

:: Northampton College – Silver

:: Northern College of Acupuncture – Provisional

:: Northumberland College – Bronze

:: University of Northumbria at Newcastle – Silver

:: Norwich University of the Arts – Gold

:: The University of Nottingham – Gold

:: Nottingham Trent University – Gold

:: Oaklands College – Silver

:: The School of Oriental and African Studies – Bronze

:: University of Oxford – Gold

:: Oxford Brookes University – Silver

:: Oxford Business College UK Limited – Provisional

:: Pearson College Limited – Provisional

:: Petroc – Silver

:: Plumpton College – Bronze

:: University of Plymouth – Bronze

:: Plymouth College of Art – Bronze

:: Point Blank Limited – Provisional

:: University of Portsmouth – Gold

:: Preston College – Bronze

:: Queen Mary University of London – Silver

:: The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education – Provisional

:: Ravensbourne – Silver

:: The University of Reading – Silver

:: Reaseheath College – Bronze

:: Redcar & Cleveland College – Silver

:: RNN Group – Silver

:: The Robert Gordon University – Gold

:: Roehampton University – Bronze

:: Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance – Gold

:: The Royal Academy of Music – Gold

:: The Royal Agricultural University – Silver

:: The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama – Gold

:: Royal College of Music – Gold

:: Royal Holloway, University of London – Silver

:: Royal Northern College of Music – Gold

:: The Royal Veterinary College – Gold

:: RTC Education Ltd – Provisional

:: SAE Education Limited – Provisional

:: The University of Salford – Bronze

:: Salford City College – Bronze

:: The Salvation Army – Provisional

:: Selby College – Silver

:: The University of Sheffield – Silver

:: Sheffield Hallam University – Silver

:: Solihull College and University Centre – Gold

:: South & City College Birmingham – Silver

:: South Devon College – Gold

:: South Tyneside College – Silver

:: South West College – Provisional

:: University of Southampton – Bronze

:: Southampton Solent University – Bronze

:: Southport College – Bronze

:: Sparsholt College – Silver

:: Spurgeon’s College – Provisional

:: University of St Andrews – Gold

:: University of St Mark & St John – Silver

:: St Mary’s University, Twickenham – Silver

:: St. George’s, University of London – Bronze

:: Staffordshire University – Silver

:: Stockton Riverside College – Silver

:: Stratford College London Limited – Provisional

:: Strode College – Silver

:: University of Suffolk – Bronze

:: University of Sunderland – Silver

:: Sunderland College – Silver

:: The University of Surrey – Gold

:: University of Sussex – Silver

:: Sussex Coast College Hastings – Provisional

:: Sussex Downs College – Silver

:: Swansea University – Silver

:: Teesside University – Silver

:: Tertiary Education Services Limited – Provisional

:: Tresham College of Further and Higher Education – Provisional

:: Trinity College (Bristol) Limited – Provisional

:: Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance – Bronze

:: Truro and Penwith College – Gold

:: Tyne Metropolitan College – Bronze

:: UCK Limited – Provisional

:: UK College of Business and Computing Ltd – Provisional

:: Wakefield College – Silver

:: University of Wales Trinity Saint David – Bronze

:: The University of Warwick – Silver

:: Warwickshire College – Bronze

:: West Herts College – Gold

:: West Kent and Ashford College – Silver

:: The University of West London – Silver

:: University of the West of England, Bristol – Silver

:: The University of Westminster – Bronze

:: Weston College of Further and Higher Education – Gold

:: Wigan and Leigh College – Silver

:: Wiltshire College – Bronze

:: University of Winchester – Silver

:: University of Wolverhampton – Bronze

:: University of Worcester – Silver

:: Wrexham Glyndwr University – Silver

:: Writtle University College – Bronze

:: University of York – Silver

:: York College – Silver

:: York St John University – Bronze


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