ULaw beats BPP in undergraduate teaching excellence
New scheme to better inform prospective students will allow providers to raise tuition fees
The University of Law has bettered its main legal education competitor, BPP University, in a new government scheme that rewards teaching excellence in higher education.
Participation in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is voluntary and providers receive either a gold, silver, or bronze award based on written submissions and their performance against several core metrics using national data: teaching; assessment and feedback; academic support, non-continuation; and employment opportunities.
The scheme, administered on behalf of the Department for Education by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, is primarily designed to help prospective students choose where to study. However, it will also allow TEF award holders to increase their tuition fees in line with inflation, subject to annual fee caps.
ULaw received a gold award for its efforts on law courses involving 295 students while BPP received a bronze award for its performance on law, medicine, and business courses involving 2,720 full and part time students – 90 per cent were enrolled on law courses.
The TEF panel, comprising academics, students, and employers, was impressed with ULaw’s ‘well established and consistently strong links to employers and the legal profession’, as well as course design and assessment practices, which ensures all students are significantly challenged to achieve their full potential.
Professor Andrea Nollent, vice chancellor and CEO at ULaw, said: ‘Our students are smart and ambitious and rightly demand the highest standard of teaching, so we are delighted to receive the TEF gold standard.
‘The award is testament to our tutors, all of whom are qualified solicitors or barristers, together with our teaching approach, which focuses on equipping our graduates with the skills they need and employers want.’
While BPP has only recently started to deliver undergraduate courses, progression into highly skilled employment or further study was notably above average. However, the most recent student cohort indicated below benchmark satisfaction with assessments, feedback and academic support. BPP’s submission did not address these areas of concern.
Tim Stewart, vice chancellor of BPP, said: ‘The TEF rating relates solely to our undergraduate provision, comprising less than 6 per cent of our overall student base, and is based on one incomplete year of assessment.
‘In BPP’s student experience survey, which covers all programmes and not just undergraduate students like the TEF, 91 per cent of our students are satisfied with BPP as an educational institution and 95 per cent would recommend BPP programmes to other students.
Stewart did, however, acknowledge the scope for improvement and said BPP looked forward to building upon these achievements and learnings ahead of our next assessment.’
A total of 59 institutions won a gold award, including the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, Coventry University, and Nottingham Trent University.
Meanwhile the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Liverpool joined BPP in the bronze award category. Providers can appeal their award and resulting changes will be made in August 2017.
The TEF panel is chaired by Sheffield Hallam University Professor Chris Husbands, who was appointed by the Department for Education following an open advertisement.
Panellists and assessors were appointed following an open call. Applications were considered by the TEF project board, assisted by a wider group from HEFCE and other sector organisations. The board made recommendations to the HEFCE chief executive, who agreed the final panel and assessor group.
Matthew Rogers is a reporter at Solicitors Journal