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Queering the TEF

Challenging the Teaching Excellence Framework

ISBN: 978-1-78769-536-8, eISBN: 978-1-78769-533-7

Publication date: 6 August 2020


Taken at face value, it may initially seem difficult to argue with the sentiments enshrined in the rhetoric that surrounds the TEF – raising the status of teaching in Higher Education (HE), rebalancing its relationship with research, incentivising institutions to focus on the quality of teaching and making them more accountable for ‘how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study’ (OfS, 2018, p. 1). Clearly, these are laudable aspirations that will chime with anyone who believes in the importance of students experiencing an education that enriches and transforms them and their potential. Drawing on Fraser and Lamble's (2014/2015) use of queer theory in relation to pedagogy, however, this chapter aims to expose the TEF not just ‘as a landmark initiative that is designed to further embed a neoliberal audit and monitoring culture into Higher Education’ (Rudd, 2017, p. 59) but as a constraining exercise that restrains diversity and limits potential. Although queer theory is more usually linked with gender and sexuality studies, Fraser and Lamble show us that it can be used ‘in its broader political project of questioning norms, opening desires and creating possibilities’ (p. 64). In this way, the queer theoretical lens used here helps us to question, disrupt and contest the essentialising hegemonic logics behind the nature and purposes of the TEF and its effects in HE classrooms. Using the slantwise position of the homosexual (Foucault, 1996), this queer analysis of the TEF can thus be helpful as a politically generative exercise in opening up space for new possibilities.



Bartram, B. (2020), "Queering the TEF", Thomas, K.C. and French, A. (Ed.) Challenging the Teaching Excellence Framework (Great Debates in Higher Education), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 179-199.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020 Brendan Bartram. Published under an exclusive licence Emerald Publishing Limited.