Today the Guardian has run a critical piece on the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (also known as TEF), stating that department’s plans will negatively affect courses such as nursing.

The department is determined to make sure that prospective students have the information they need to make the best choices in terms of the course they take at university, which university they attend and the value for money they receive.

The current institutional-level TEF, which takes account of graduate earnings, is part of this drive to make sure that students are well aware of the value for money their prospective course provides, but it is misleading to say that this is endangering nursing and similar courses.

Our framework takes account of the fact that the median salary for 25-29 year olds is currently £21,000. Given that the average nursing wage is above the stated median salary, it would mean that nursing would contribute positively toward a university’s institutional-level TEF.

On top of this, graduate earnings is just one of a number of metrics taken into account in determining a university’s TEF rating.

Kevin Crimmons, Associate Professor in Adult Nursing at Birmingham City University, said:

We are still reeling from the removal of the nursing bursary. For our undergraduate degree in nursing we have significantly more mature students than school leavers. Their needs are completely different and so is their reaction to debt.

The government has been irresponsible in abolishing bursaries, which was a profound change, without thinking what the impact would be, and without a national media campaign to explain the new finances to potential students.

Changes to the teaching rankings will be another poorly thought through soundbite policy that could have grave knock-on effects for nursing.

Nursing students are motivated by compassion rather than salary. They tell us that they want to do nursing because they want to make a difference in people’s lives.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

The TEF will help applicants make better choices, and ensure that more students get the value for money they deserve from higher education. Student will have more information than ever before, allowing them to drill down and compare universities by subject and hold universities to account for the education they provide.

The TEF takes a range of measures into account when rating providers and is misleading to suggest they would be affected the average salaries of a small number of professions, regardless of the level. Additionally the average wage in teaching and nursing is above the national average for 25-29 year olds, according to the independent ONS.

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