officer blog


Undergraduate Education

Rebekah Temple-Fielder


Your Education Quality is worse than a year ago – but it doesn’t have to stay that way

Hey you! We’ve got a problem – and no I don’t just mean timetables. We need to talk about the quality of Education at UEA. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a decline in quality and a rise in inconsistency. But don’t panic – it doesn’t have to stay this way.

The backstory:

A year ago, I was delving deep into the world of the Teaching Excellence Framework. In case you missed the memo, TEF is the government’s attempt to evaluate how well universities are delivering quality education. I went in, armed with a 10-page report filled to the brim with insights from our diverse student community. In it, we exposed an ugly truth: the student experience at UEA is far from consistent, with specific groups of students like disabled students, bearing the brunt.

The recent shock:

Here's the real kicker – UEA, once the proud owner of a Gold TEF rating has now fallen to Silver. This isn’t just a change in labelling, but a downgrade from “Outstanding” to “Very High Quality”. Clearly, something is up. And honestly? I don’t think this rating is entirely unfair. It accurately reflects the inconsistency in quality and practices across our institution. Our submission showed the reality, the government listened and UEA received a fair rating.

A difficult truth:

Am I seriously telling you all that you’re all worse off? Well yeah. I suppose I am. And the truth is that you probably are.

But the point here is that we don’t have to accept this decline in the quality of our education. We must not.

UEA has faced numerous challenges this past year, and as we uncover their impact and new issues emerge, it's so important that you, as students, feel empowered to change. You should feel compelled not only to sing praises for what's working but, more importantly, to shout about what's gone terribly wrong. We're on a mission to empower students to combat this quality slump. We're here to hand you the tools to drive change because if this is not what the Students' Union is here for, then what the heck are we?

The solution:

So, how do we do it? Enter Academic Representation. Our Course Reps and School Convenors, a dedicated team of SU volunteers, hold regular meetings with university staff, setting agendas and addressing issues. Each year, countless stories of positive change emerge thanks to these representatives.

Don’t get me wrong - the system isn't perfect, there's more we can do to improve it – and that’s why my top priority this year is to do just that. But - this system exists to empower you to become the change, whether through dialogue with your reps or by running for these roles yourself. We must use it to reshape our education at UEA, ensuring that all of us can have the best possible experience now and in the future.

Taking Action:

Rest assured, I'm not taking this lightly either. Just last week in LTC, I raised our concerns about the TEF and the NSS results. I also addressed at the University Council this week and presented my views in Union Council yesterday. This fight isn't over for me, and it shouldn't be for any of us.

In conclusion, it's undeniable that our education quality has declined. But remember, it doesn't have to stay this way.