OU student voices heard in TEF submission

The OU Students Association submitted a report to the 2023 TEF containing the insights and experiences of OU students.

A square containing the letters T E F and 2023

The OU Students Association has, this week, provided a submission on behalf of Open University students to the 2023 Teaching Excellence Framework review.

The Office for Students conducts the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) review to assess the quality and standards of higher education institutions over the previous four years, giving them an award rating based on the outcome. Student unions, associations and guilds are invited to provide submissions to represent the views and experiences of students as a part of this review process.

The OU Students Association consulted students on their views as a part of the process of compiling a submission using surveys, student focus groups, and consultations with student representatives.

Gareth Jones, Deputy President, said “Ensuring that Open University students’ voices are heard in these official reviews is really important if we want to be able to influence the people and organisations making decisions about the future of higer education. I’m really pleased that our submission reflects the experiences of our fellow students.”

The key findings submitted by the OU Students Association to the Office for Students were:

  • Quality of Teaching Materials – Students indicated that they are generally satisfied with the quality of their module materials, with satisfaction levels remaining steady over recent years compared to a dip in the wider sector. However, we did highlight that OU students in need of alternative formats have had some difficulties in receiving them in a timely manner during the assessment period. We also noted that this has improved over the assessment period, with significantly fewer students now experiencing delays.
  • Learning Experience – Students highlighted the value they place on tutorials. In particular, the development of a tutorial recording policy during the assessment, in collaboration with the Students Association, was highlighted as a beneficial development for OU students, providing increased flexibility in how they engage with module content. Additionally, we shared the some discontent on the platform used to deliver tutorials, with Adobe Connect felt to be less interactive than other alternatives.
  • Student Support – The provision of support was well received by students. In particular, interactions with the Careers and Employability Team was shown to be of benefit. Additionally, interactions with the OU when it came to support in difficult times enhanced the student experience.
  • Assessment and feedback – Recognising the disruption caused by the pandemic, students highlighted some concerns raised with the assessments at the OU, particularly with regards errors in the materials, and conflicting advice within modules.
  • Student Voice – We were able to commend the OU on its general approach to student voice. It was felt, by the majority, in our research that their voice was listened to, with their input acted upon effectively. Particular commendations included the commitment to running a Student Voice Week, and the inclusion of student representatives on the emergency response team to the pandemic.

The full report cannot be shared until after the outcome of the review in August 2023.

If you want to find out how you can get involved with the Students Association, visit the Get involved page on our website.