Teaching meets the Gold standard at University of Leicester in national ratings

  • University of Leicester is delighted to receive an overall Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2023, which means the experience students have and the outcomes it leads to are typically outstanding. 
  • The TEF ratings, awarded in 2023 and valid for four years, are an independent assessment and rating of excellence in UK universities and colleges 
  • The University is one of a small number nationally to achieve TEF Gold alongside a top 30 REF performance, indicating outstanding performance in both teaching and research. 

The University of Leicester meets the national overall Gold standard for its student experience and outcomes, the highest outcome according to the Government’s scheme that assesses and rates UK universities and colleges for excellence. 

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2023, run by the Office for Students (OfS), has awarded the University of Leicester an overall Gold rating, the highest possible award, underpinned by a Gold rating for student outcomes and Silver for student experience. 

The ratings, which are awarded by a national TEF panel of independent academic experts and student representatives, are designed to identify excellent undergraduate teaching and student outcomes. These ratings last for four years from 2023. 

For the first time, each higher education provider has been awarded a rating for each ‘aspect’ of the TEF: the student experience and student outcomes. This gives students more information about where the panel found excellent performance for each university and college.  

Leicester’s Gold student outcomes rating reflects outstanding quality in relation to student completion, continuation and progression into graduate employment according to the expert panel, with a range of efforts by staff across the institution working in partnership with students contributing to the University’s successful approach to enhancing outcomes.  

The University's sector-leading work on research-inspired education as well as embedding a previously extra-curricular career development programme into all undergraduate programmes were highlighted in particular, as were the very high rates of academic staff with accredited teaching qualifications, which are amongst the highest in the country. 

The University’s teaching, feedback and assessment practices are also described as very high quality, with approaches to demystify assessment and inclusion initiatives such as an Inclusive Curriculum Project noted as contributing to a very high-quality student experience. 

It follows Leicester’s ranking of 30th in the Times Higher Education’s analysis of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 results, its best-ever performance in a national research assessment exercise, indicating that the University is one of the few in the country to demonstrate excellence in both teaching and research. 

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “I am really proud that we have been awarded an overall Gold TEF rating – confirming what we know is a really outstanding offering for students. Our vision is to provide a research-inspired education, and this accolade, alongside our top 30 REF result last year, shows University of Leicester is a world-leading research intensive University. Our TEF rating is also reflective of the hard work and creativity of our academic and professional services staff who go above and beyond to give all of our students every opportunity to succeed.” 

Professor Liz Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Leicester, said: “This is a welcome acknowledgement that our students thrive on the excellent education programmes we offer at Leicester, benefitting from studying in a research-intensive institution that is truly inclusive and diverse.  

“We work hard to ensure that our very diverse body of students benefit from an excellent experience with us, leaving us with the expertise and skills they need to become positive Citizens of Change.” 

The University’s submission emphasised the inspiring and inclusive environment it provides in which to live, study and work. Since 2016, £300m has been invested in the student experience estate, and a programme of continual enhancement enriches the education it delivers. A student-centred ethos lies at the heart of the University’s mission, and successful partnership and co-creation with students have driven sector-leading initiatives like MedRACE that have played an integral role in enhancing the educational experience at Leicester. 

MedRACE (Raising Awareness Celebrating Excellence) grew out of the British Medical Association’s ‘Charter for medical schools to prevent and address racial harassment’, establishing a student and staff group to address the four charter principles: supporting individuals to speak out, ensuring robust processes for reporting and handling complaints, mainstreaming EDI across the learning environment and addressing racial harassment on work placements.  

Tackling a wide range of student issues, MedRACE has given medical students a voice in their university experience and has embedded racial inclusion in the curriculum to ensure equity and safety. With Clinical Medicine research at the University of Leicester ranked joint 2nd in the Times Higher Education (THE)’s analysis of the national Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, Medicine at Leicester has demonstrated that it is leading the sector in both quality and inclusion. 

Amardeep Sidki, 4th year intercalating medical student, and Kiran Bhavra, final year medical student, are both MedRACE Student Co-Chairs. They said: “MedRACE works so effectively because students feel respected by staff members. This creates a flattened hierarchy in the student-staff group, allowing the lived experiences from the student body to be heard. As a group, we are constantly inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of our members to step forward, share their experiences and take action to address racial inequality.”  

The Leicester Award, an employability programme embedded in all undergraduate courses, was noted for its impact on student outcomes. It provides students with an opportunity to develop their self-awareness and reflective abilities, principally around their strengths, values, motivations and skills. The Leicester Award Gold subsequently supports students to identify and prepare a competitive application for a suitable work-related experience.  

The vision for Leicester students is a holistic approach in which everyone has employability baked into their studies. Embedding the Leicester Award into academic content was the first step in the drive to ensure all students are equipped to take advantage of the world of work in the 21st Century. 

Rich Wilcock, Head of Student Development, said: “Students are definitely seeing the benefit! Curricular delivery of the Leicester Award and Leicester Award Gold removes barriers to engagement associated with traditional careers and employability provision.  

“Further good news is that our analysis demonstrates that completion of the awards increases the likelihood of our students gaining valuable work experience and developing a sense of career confidence, measures which are proven to improve our students' chances of securing a graduate role or going on to further study.” 

Professor Jones adds: “Our consistency in excellent graduate outcomes is one of our key strengths and this, along with our strong National Student Survey scores and student retention rates, has undoubtedly strengthened what we believe is an excellent offering for students. 

“With a bold research-inspired Education Strategy already in place, we are in the ideal position to establish the empowering, supportive and exciting learning environment that will usher us into our second century of inspirational and fulfilling education at Leicester.”