University Centre Sparsholt (UCS) has received the highest commendation for excellence in teaching and learning with a prestigious Gold award from the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). The University Centre received the much coveted Gold for the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and consistently outstanding outcomes for students from all backgrounds. With employability figures showing 96% of UCS graduates successfully in work or further study the award is recognition of the high levels of student satisfaction and successful progression.
The awards, now in their third year, are administered by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England. The awards were introduced by the government to recognise excellent teaching and inform applicants’ choices about where to study. TEF ratings are determined by six core metrics based on teaching, academic support and progression to employment.
Sparsholt’s Gold Award puts the University Centre alongside many of the top universities in the UK. Principal Tim Jackson said: “Outstanding teaching, excellent support and progression to further study or employment are the cornerstones of Sparsholt and these are the criteria we are proud to be judged against. These are also the criteria important to students when choosing where to study. To have these acknowledged to the highest possible standards by the TEF demonstrates that the expert teaching teams, outstanding resources and facilities deliver outstanding outcomes for our students.”
The University Centre offers highly specialised land-based degree programmes from Foundation level up to Master’s. These degree and Master’s programmes are all validated by the University of Portsmouth. Professor Paul Hayes, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience at the University of Portsmouth welcomed the news. He said: “We are delighted our long-standing partner, has, like the University, been awarded Gold for teaching excellence. The fact that we are both Gold-rated demonstrates the immense benefits of working together as two institutions who each prize excellence in teaching.”
The expert TEF panel comprises of leading academics, students and widening participation experts. The panel praised University Centre Sparsholt for their course design, delivery and assessment practices which provide scope for outstanding levels of stretch. This ensures all students are significantly challenged to achieve their full potential, acquiring knowledge, skills and understanding that are most highly valued by employers. The incredible resources from the ‘outstanding physical, human and digital as well as the provider’s extensive links with industry’, were all acknowledged by the panel as enhancing so student learning so students are consistently and frequently engaged and involved with developments from the forefront of research and practice.
Commenting on the highly successful personalised approach adopted at UCS, the panel said: “A clear focus on the needs of students with high levels of pastoral and academic support, based on identified needs, promotes the academic achievement of all students, irrespective of background.”
Tim Jackson continued: “Our University Centre reputation is firmly based on quality teaching outcomes, high levels of employment and outstanding links with industry. It was very rewarding to see that the panel noted the excellent employability of students because of this mix of theoretical and practical skills where the high quality external student placements regularly lead to employment in that business or sector. In addition to our excellent teaching and industry links University Centre Sparsholt exists on an incredible campus with first class facilities and I am so proud that all this has been recognised with a Gold.”
The TEF Gold award will apply for the next three years and sits alongside a number of other measures of quality including an ‘Outstanding’ residential Ofsted, a highly rated ‘Good’ Ofsted and the Matrix accreditation – all marks of a quality college and a quality university centre.