22 May 2018
With both of the proposed models, submitting to the TEF will involve significant administrative effort from providers. The assessment exercise will also be extremely high-stakes, conferring reputational reward on providers and potentially (should legislation change) leading to differential income depending on ratings awarded. Compared to the REF, the rating awarded by the TEF has the potential to have a far greater impact on any provider, in terms of overall finance and recruitment.
Therefore, given that the REF is conducted once every 5-7 years, there is a strong argument for the TEF to take place over the same timescale. This is particularly true when considering the limited ability of universities to effect significant change over a short period of time, especially given the length of a undergraduate cohort is 3-5 years depending on the subject. A maximum duration between TEF assesments of six years is therefore a more reasonable proposition. Providers should have the right to re-submit during the first three years of the six-year period.