November 30, 2023 | University Partners

Transforming education in Yorkshire – Professor Dave Petley of University of Hull

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull, shares his pride in the University’s Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (2023).

It’s been an exciting time for universities across Yorkshire. As we waited for this year’s freshers and returning students to arrive on campus – one of my favourite points of the year – we were also waiting for a very special announcement that only comes once every four years.

It follows a spate of university rankings in September and is an independent assessment that rates teaching, learning and student outcomes at undergraduate level as being bronze, silver or gold by focusing on student satisfaction, retention rates and graduate employment.

"It’s no secret: I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve been recognised as ranking with the best."

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national scheme run by the Office for Students (OfS) that aims to encourage higher education providers to improve and deliver excellence in the areas about which students care the most: teaching, learning and achieving positive outcomes from their studies. These positive outcomes relate to the extent to which students succeed in and beyond their studies, and the educational gains delivered for students.

For universities in our region, and indeed across the UK, these awards recognise that we are taking a progressive, innovative approach to education, including teaching that draws upon state-of-the art research, providing an outstanding student experience, and the creation of dynamic partnerships, which are the signature of universities that are delivering the best possible outcomes for their students. Our students benefit the most when they can engage with businesses, charities and government agencies during their studies.

It’s no secret: I’m absolutely delighted that here at the University of Hull we’ve been recognised as ranking with the best. A Gold rating – the highest award possible for student experience and student outcomes and a clear signal of excellence – will be celebrated on campus and beyond with students, staff and the local community sharing in our University’s success at a national level.

"I am certain that our Gold TEF award confirms we’re on a new, positive, trajectory and that this new – and undeniably exciting phase."

You may be wondering what Hull did differently to receive this accolade – and the answer is, actually, quite a lot. Firstly, we’ve used feedback from our students to drive transformation of our approach to teaching, and to enhance our academic and pastoral support, empowering them to achieve their own personal and professional success. Our education is a partnership between the students and ourselves in which we both take responsibility for getting the best outcome for each and every learner. We’ve worked hard to ensure that our students are engaged with developments at the cutting edge of research, practice and scholarship. The TEF panel has recognised this.

It's hard to do full justice to the comprehensive transformation, so perhaps a few examples might give a glimpse of the kind of standards involved:

  • Outstanding support: It’s our intention that students feel they belong to an inclusive, empowering, progressive and supportive academic community— a community that fosters imagination and creativity and where it feels safe to question, challenge and act to make a positive difference to individuals and society. Our Inclusive Education Framework ensures that any student, from any background or walk of life, can thrive at the University of Hull and that the delivery of our education and support meets their needs and exceeds their expectations. We do this through empathic leadership, staff empowerment, student partnership and clear communication.
  • Excellent teaching staff: The vast majority of our teaching staff have credentials of excellence in teaching and educational leadership through Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. This level of expertise and professionalism in learning and teaching directly affects the outstanding educational experience of our students.
  • Transforming programmes: Launched in 2019, this institution-wide curriculum review developed novel, distinctive and effective teaching that provides every student with outstanding education and training fit for the 21st Century. Student-centred alternative/non-traditional forms of assessment enable students to learn in a creative way and they are able to tailor their degree to their growing sense of themselves, learning in a more personalised way. Our approach has been recognised as innovative and significant by JISC (the UK’s expert body for digital technology in Higher Education) and by the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education), which has recently funded us to explore the implementation of our Competence Framework across the UK higher education sector. This framework ensures that students have the necessary experience, knowledge and self-awareness to flourish in their careers.

Since joining the University of Hull a little over a year ago, I’ve often remarked that the University is rather a hidden gem, a well-kept secret. I am certain that our Gold TEF award confirms we’re on a new, positive, trajectory and that this new – and undeniably exciting phase – will attract the attention of applicants, researchers and the HE sector as a whole.

Students, staff and our many partners have given me a wonderful welcome to Hull. Everyone told me it’s a friendly university, with a real community feel on campus. That’s absolutely true – and you can be certain that our staff will be going out of their way to welcome all our new and returning students in the coming weeks. Our staff give so much of themselves – working above and beyond – and that’s why we are Gold! It is both thanks to the dedication of our staff and the application of our amazing students that we are celebrating this outstanding result.