An article written by The University of Sheffield’s Vice-Chancellor Keith Burnett discussing the effects of university participation in the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has elicited a negative response from the Students’ Union.

The TEF will introduce government involvement in monitoring and assessing the teaching quality of universities in England. Universities that achieve a good score on the TEF may use this as a licence to raise tuition fees in line with inflation, bringing them to £9250 for the 2017/2018 academic year.

Burnett has previously stood in opposition to the prospective raise in fees and, with the Students’ Union, had criticized the TEF as a flawed and inaccurate means of measuring quality within higher education.

His recent article titled ‘Cash-starved campuses must raise fees or drop standards’ suggests that participation in the TEF is the only option for universities that wish to avoid compromising their current standards and endorses the need to raise tuition fees.

The Students’ Union feel that this is a disheartening message to portray to current and prospective students during the present climate of uncertainty, and is contradictory to his previous stance.

SU President Dom Trendall and SU Education Officer Ali Day write in their response that they are “extremely disappointed” by the Vice-Chancellor’s article and its indication that The University of Sheffield will indeed be participating in the TEF, despite no official verdict having been made.

The SU response asserts that “More care needs to be taken by the Vice-Chancellor when discussing sensitive issues such as fee rises and he must clarify Sheffield’s position”, as any claims he makes regarding the impending decisions around TEF participation will be linked to Sheffield by students due to his title.


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