West Nottinghamshire College delivers high-quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its university-level students and consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for higher education (HE).
That is the verdict of independent regulator the Office for Students (OfS), which has awarded the Mansfield college a prestigious silver rating in this year’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) awards.
This makes it the only college in Nottinghamshire – and one of just 46 across the country – to be recognised as part of the OfS-run scheme which rates the quality of HE provision by universities and colleges across the country.
The TEF was introduced by the Government in 2017 to encourage excellence in teaching and learning outcomes, complementing the existing assessment system for research.
It provides easily-understandable overall ratings which prospective students can take into account alongside all other sources of information, advice and guidance, with results published on the UCAS, Unistats and OfS websites.
Ratings are decided by an independent panel comprising students, academics, and experts on employment and widening participation in higher education. Drawing on national data combined with evidence submitted by each university or college, the TEF measures excellence in three areas: teaching quality, the learning environment, and the educational and professional outcomes achieved by students.
HE providers are assigned a rating of gold, silver or bronze; or a provisional award where there is not enough data for a full assessment.
The college has gained silver status following its very first submission, with the rating valid for up to three years.
The panel noted that full-time students’ satisfaction with assessment and feedback, and their rate of progression to employment and further study, were exceptionally high and above the college’s own benchmarks.
In particular, they highlighted evidence of the college’s:
- commitment to the development of employability and transferable skills, with course-design and assessment practices tailored to ensure all students acquire knowledge, skills and understanding that are highly valued by employers;
- variety of measures designed to secure high levels of engagement and commitment to learning from students who are at risk of not continuing their course or achieving positive outcomes;
- positive learning environment including the use of high-quality facilities and staff development.
Eleanor Taylor, head of higher education and international at the college, said: “We’re thrilled to have achieved a silver rating, especially as it takes feedback from our students into account – that’s what makes the award so special.
“It not only reflects the college’s commitment to offering university-level courses locally, but is also a real tribute to all the staff who work so hard to provide a high-quality, positive experience for our students.”
The college offers a range of higher education programmes including HNCs, HNDs, foundation degrees and full honours degrees, plus professional qualifications and higher apprenticeships targeted at local employers; working in partnership with the University of Derby, Nottingham Trent University, and Birmingham City University.
In its TEF submission document, the college provided evidence of its key strengths, success and achievement rates, and feedback from students. It explained how its university-level provision enabled more people in Mansfield and Ashfield – areas with a lower-than-average percentage of the population qualified at level 4 and above – to progress to higher education.
Much of its HE provision takes place in the £6.5 million Vision University Centre at its Derby Road campus, which offers students state-of-the-art facilities rivaling those of many universities including a Microsoft suite, science laboratory, 100-seat lecture theatre, seminar room, ultra-modern study spaces, learning resource centre, and IT room.
Publicly-funded universities and colleges in England with a TEF award may charge up to £9,250 per year for a full-time course. The college has set its full-time HE tuition fees for 2018/19 at £6,750.
A total of 296 higher education providers, mainly universities and colleges, currently have a TEF award. West Nottinghamshire College is among 46 colleges to be accredited under the scheme, and is one of 33 new entrants that took part for the first time this year.
Participation in the TEF is currently voluntary although, in future, participation by universities and colleges in England will be a condition of registration with the OfS.