REF 2021 - Privacy notice for non-staff

REF 2021 Non-Staff Data Collection Statement

The University of Salford is the “Data Controller” of your personal data and is subject to the data protection legislation and to the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (“GDPR”). We are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) registration number Z469563X and our Data Protection Officer is Andrew Hartley.

We understand the importance of individuals’ privacy rights and we are committed to complying with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. This privacy notice is to let you know how we use personal data that is submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

We know that there is a lot of information here, but we want you to be fully informed. We hope the following sections will answer any questions you have, but if not, please do get in touch with us.

Why we are collecting data

Under the GDPR we have to have justification (“legal basis”) for obtaining your information and for non-staff we believe this is:

Public Task

To ensure that we can carry out our role as an educational and research establishment, meeting legal, moral and contractual obligations, as laid out in the University’s Charter.

How do we use your data?

We use your data as part of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF 2021). This is an exercise which assesses the quality of UK research and informs the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies. The REF outcomes are used to calculate about £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research, and affect their international reputations. The results also inform strategic decisions about national research priorities. The next REF will be undertaken in 2021.

Impact is assessed through the submission of case studies, which describe the changes or benefits brought about by research undertaken by researchers at the institution. Impressive impacts were found across all disciplines, with 44 per cent of submissions judged to be outstanding. A database of case studies submitted in 2014 can be found here:

When do we collect data about you?

You may have provided information for one or more impact case studies or environment statements as part of our submission to the REF 2021.

What sort of data do we collect? 

Details such as your job title and organisational affiliation - may be provided in narrative statements. 

REF has published guidance on submissions and sets out what kind of data will be required.

Sharing information about you

We will collect and use the following categories of data for our REF 2021 submission:

Within the University

Your data will be shared by the University with staff who need to view it as part of their role in preparing the REF 2021 submission. This includes staff working in Professional Services within Research & Knowledge Exchange (RKE), UOA Submission Coordinators (academic staff responsible for developing the submission in a given UOA), School Impact Coordinators, personnel teams including Human Resources and committees set up for the development of the REF submission as detailed in our REF Code of Practice.

With third parties

Your data will additionally be shared with the following third parties:

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

UKRI may pass your data, or parts of it, to any of the following organisations that need it to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research and to carry out their statutory functions connected with funding higher education:

  • Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE)
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

UKRI and the organisations listed above will use the information to analyse and monitor the REF 2021. This may result in information being released to other users including academic researchers or consultants (commissioned by the funding bodies), to carry out research or analysis, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679). Where information not previously published is released to third parties, this will be anonymised where practicable.

UKRI will require that anyone who has access to your data, held in UKRI’s records, paper or electronic, will respect its confidentiality and will only process it in accordance with instructions issued for the purposes specified by UKRI.

Parts of your data will be passed to the REF expert panels and the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (whose members are independent of UKRI) for the purpose of conducting a systematic evaluation of submissions, in accordance with predetermined criteria and methods. All panel members are bound by confidentiality arrangements.

External reviewers

Textual parts of the REF 2021 submission (for example, impact case studies) may be shared with third party external reviewers during the process of submission development.

Publishing information about your part in our submission

The results of the assessment exercise will be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, in December 2021.

Those parts of submissions that contain factual data and textual information about research activity will also be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, and will be made available online. Published information is likely to include textual information including impact case studies in which you may be referenced. Your name and job title may be included in this textual information. Other personal details will normally be removed.

How long do we keep your data for?

We will retain your data to support the University’s REF 2021 submission and this will include any legal, accounting, or reporting requirements. Specifically, we will retain all data used in the development of the REF submission until completion of the REF audit process, and will retain a copy of the staff, outputs, impact and environment submission after submission, in order to facilitate future REF submissions.

Data is retained for as long as it is required to perform its purpose, or for as long as is required by law. At the end of that retention period, your data will either be deleted completely or anonymised, for example by aggregation with other data so that it can be used in a non-identifiable way for statistical analysis and business planning.

View our Records Retention Schedule for further details.

How can you find out what information we hold on you?

University of Salford

Under Article 15 of the GDPR individuals have a right of access to their own personal data held by the University of Salford. A request for all such information is called a Subject Access Request or SAR.

Under the GDPR the individual is entitled to:

  • A description of the data
  • The recipients of the data shared
  • Information about any automated decisions that have been made
  • A copy of the data on request

All the above must be returned to the requesting individual within one month and at no cost.

If you would like to exercise your Right of Access please submit a request using the SAR form.

If you wish to exercise any of your other rights then please email us at:

If you have any questions about REF2021 you can contact us at:

If you have any concerns about the conduct of academic research (for example, around the collection of impact evidence) please contact:

Further information relating to the University of Salford’s Privacy Notice and Data Protection guidelines


Under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR, you have the right to request a copy of any personal information that UKRI holds about you. Further information about the Act and GDPR, and guidance on making a subject access request, can be found on the RE website.

If you have any concerns about your information being used for these purposes, please contact:

Data Protection Officer
UK Research and Innovation
Polaris House
Swindon, SN2 1FL


This Statement

From time to time we may make changes to this statement because the way in which we are processing your personal information may need to change. All alterations will be posted on this page and will apply from the time we post them. Where we have a valid email address for you we will periodically email you to inform you of any substantial changes and/or to send you a link to our current privacy statement.

This statement was last updated on 29 November 2019