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TEF and the Implications for Graduate Employers

Candidate Attraction Higher Education Student Recruitment

Expectations from Universities have risen dramatically since the escalation of tuition fees. Never before has the value of a higher education been scrutinised by students, parents, government and employers, who all share the same belief that education can underpin the future prosperity of this country. With the launch of the new TEF ratings Universities now have the opportunity to demonstrate they are meeting these expectations. The underlying theory is that the quality of education will increase but is this a win-win scenario for employers?

First of all let's look at the view from campus with Mona Vadher from City University. "In this current economic climate, it's essential that Higher Education careers services ensure a ready supply of highly skilled graduates to fill the graduate positions available. Students are often under the misconception that securing their dream graduate role is solely about academic achievement. We know, however, that it isn't just about academic performance, and employers often advise universities on competencies graduates need, but they can offer so much more." This shows that a University education should provide students with a commercially viable skillset but how will TEF drive this agenda? Mona explains the TEF in more detail.

…and so, the introduction of TEF, but what is it?


"On 8th July 2015, the governmental budget highlighted that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) could increase tuition fee in line with inflation from 2017-18 to new students if they are providing high-quality teaching. The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a scheme for recognising excellent teaching, in addition to existing national quality requirements for universities, colleges and other higher education providers. It provides information to help prospective students choose where to study. There are three benchmarked metrics, included in each institutions TEF submission:

1. Employment/destination – Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, from 2017 results of Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs (tax returns).
2. Retention/continuation – Student outcomes (annual data returns to HESA).
3. Student satisfaction indicators – National Student Survey (teaching quality and learning environment).


What does this mean for employers?

The TEF requires students to be taught "transferrable work-readiness skills" that businesses need. Employer design and delivery in the curriculum is a key component in the TEF as this ensures that degrees remain commercially relevant and practically focused while still maintaining academic rigour." This is an interesting shift putting into sharper focus a graduate's employability and opens the door for more influence by employers. Here's some practical advice on how to get involved on a strategic level.


So, how can this be done?

"There are several strategies that employers can engage with HEI's:

1. Employer delivery

Employers can provide business professionals that work with academics to deliver lectures or assess activities.

2. Employers advising on the curriculum

Employers can provide direct advice to universities through their participation in Steering Groups and Advisory Boards.

3. Work-based learning

A range of activities that take place within a work setting, including: placements, work experience and some forms of volunteering, providing scope for application of subject understanding and exercise of graduate level skills.

4. Mentoring

Providing a long-term relationship between a more experienced person in employment and a student, to help the latter develop in their understanding of the world of work.

5. Work-related learning

Providing real work situations and encompassing teaching methods such as case studies, projects, study visits and simulated work environments.

6. Employability modules

Modules specifically addressing employability issues that could include student identity, the nature of the graduate labour market, career choice, self-awareness, skills development, job seeking, enterprise and entrepreneurship and critical exploration of the concept of 'career'."


The message is clear to employers that TEF can now enable those who take a strategic approach to graduate recruitment access to a variety of channels and forge a long term partnership directly with Universities or through a consultancy. How will you adapt your approach?

Dan Hawes is the Marketing Director at Graduate Recruitment Bureau. He hopes to enlighten students, graduates and employers with his wisdom from over 20 years in the industry.  

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