The University of Sheffield student union petition against the proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has reached over 1000 signatures as students attempt to fight the increase of tuition fees.
An open letter to the University’s vice-chancellor Sir Keith Burnett was penned by education officer Ali Day, who is the face of the student union’s “Shef better than TEF” campaign. The petition has quickly gathered signatures, particularly from students who face an ever growing sum of debt.
TEF was proposed in 2015 by the Conservative government as a commitment in recognising universities that offer the highest teaching quality and in order to drive up the quality of teaching in higher education. Universities that are seen as meeting the expectations of the framework will be able to raise their tuition fees in line with inflation.
The “Shef better than TEF” campaign aim is to ultimately persuade the Vice-Chancellor of the university to opt-out of the TEF proposal.
Miss Day said “We want the University of Sheffield, especially the Vice-Chancellor, to stand alongside us and send out a national message encouraging others not to participate.”
“The metrics used to measure teaching quality are inappropriate and will not truly reflect teaching provision. It will also see students treated as customers who ‘buy’ a degree which fundamentally changes the way society values education.”
The first stage of TEF will see universities able to raise their fees to from £9,000 to £9250 for the 2017/2018 academic year for all students. The Department of Education, who are administering the introduction of the framework, have said that the fee increases in 2018 will be a trial before a system with different levels of fees based on the teaching quality is offered. With current inflation estimates, students could be paying £10,000 each academic year by 2020.
President of the Student Union, Dom Trendall, added “It will be bad because it pertains to a marketisation of our education. It will change the way that the relationship works between someone who is teaching you and the students.”
The campaigners have also been voicing their concerns to local MPs Nick Clegg and Paul Blomfield and have organised coach travel for Sheffield students for the NUS National Demonstration on the 19th of November.