The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), originally proposed in the UK government’s Higher Education White Paper, now the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, is a national mechanism to assess teaching quality in universities. This article provides a critical account of the TEF, underpinned by an overview of the policy context and marketisation and employability agendas exploring the rationale for implementing TEF within universities. We argue, first, that the White Paper’s narrative, the rhetoric of the TEF, seems positive but its implementation appears to be conceptually flawed. Second, its complex quality metrics system demands yet another layer of bureaucracy in an already micro-managed system of higher education. Third, claims made by the White Paper must be supported by evidence-based research to ensure that the objectives are clear. We conclude by questioning whether the quality of the student experience can be improved by the TEF reforms.