The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs) replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
REF is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies. The purpose of the REF is to
The next REF exercise will be in 2021 with submission expected in late 2020.
The guidelines for REF2021 are anticipated for release in summer 2017. In the meantime, news and information can be found on the HEFCE blog, which frequently publishes articles relating to the REF.
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Below you can see the proposed indicative timetable for REF 2021. It is expected that the timetable will be confirmed in late summer 2017. You can click on individual lines for HEFCE news pertaining to those items.
|1st August 2013||Start period for income and impacts|
|1st January 2014||Start of period for outputs|
|Noon on Friday 17th March 2017||Consultation deadline|
|Mid-2017||Publish initial decisions on the next REF|
|Mid-2017||Appoint panel chairs|
|2018||Publish guidance on submissions and panel criteria|
|2019||Invite HEIs to make submissions|
|31st July 2020||End of assessment period (for research impacts, the research environment and related data)|
|November 2020||Closing date for submissions|
|31st December 2020||End of publication period for publication of research outputs and outputs underpinning impact case studies|
|December 2021||Publication of outcomes|
|Spring 2022||Publication of submissions and reports|
In December 2016 the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) published a document that set out the proposals of the four UK higher education funding bodies for the REF. The proposals sought to build on the first REF in 2014 and to incorporate Lord Stern’s Review of the REF. Responses were invited from higher education institutions and groups/organisations with an interest in the conduct, quality, funding or use of research and the deadline was 17th March 2017. Here you can view and download the University of Salford’s submitted response.