Jo Johnson has made his second major speech since being appointed Minister for Higher Education today. Contents can be found here.

It is a substantial speech, I wasn’t there but judging by the tweets about the Q&A afterwards, he has really got to know his brief and means business.

The key part of the speech starts like this:

It is striking that while we have a set of measures to reward high quality research, backed by substantial funding (the Research Excellence Framework), there is nothing equivalent to drive up standards in teaching.

That is why my priority as Universities Minister will be to make sure students get the teaching they deserve and employers get graduates with the skills they need by introducing the Teaching Excellence Framework we promised in our manifesto.

My aims for the TEF are:

  • To ensure all students receive an excellent teaching experience that encourages original thinking, drives up engagement and prepares them for the world of work.
  • To build a culture where teaching has equal status with research, with great teachers enjoying the same professional recognition and opportunities for career and pay progression as great researchers.
  • To stimulate a diverse HE market and provide students with the information they need to judge teaching quality – in the same way they can already compare a faculty’s research rating.
  • To recognise those institutions that do the most to welcome students from a range of backgrounds and support their retention and progression to further study or a graduate job.

He does make it clear that the TEF will not replicate the bureaucratic burden of the REF, which is welcome.

In response to questions, he did make it clear that there would be incentives for teaching excellence. These will be consulted upon, but it is as clear an indication as any that this will somehow be linked to funding and/or student fee levels. I look forward to the consultation.

There’s a lot more in the speech too about access, standards, graduate prospects. All very interesting and balanced, I’ll try to post something later about these.

As a sideline, I mentioned in a post I wrote on WonkHE earlier in the week that HEFCE’s timing of its consultation on the future of QA was curious given that BIS was going to be consulting on the TEF, which is a much more substantial and significant change for the sector. This just reinforced that.

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