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The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is an assessment of the research in UK higher education institutions carried out by the national higher education funding bodies.  The outcome of the REF informs the allocation of quality research related funding (‘QR’).  It contributes to the accountability for public funding and demonstrates the benefits of public investment in research and impact.

Submissions are organised into discipline-based ‘Units of Assessment’ (UOA) and assessed by UOA sub-panels comprising academic and research user members. The REF is not an assessment of individual members of staff.  A list of submitted staff will not be published.

Further information about REF2021 is available on the funding bodies’ website  This includes a fair processing notice for staff submitted to REF2021. Information about the funding bodies' Code of Practice complaints and investigations process, which opened on 1 April 2021, are available at

The requirements and rules of REF2021 are set out in two documents, which are both available from the funders’ website – the Guidance on Submissions (REF2019/01) and the Panel Criteria and Working Methods (REF2019/02).

Further information including amendments to the exercise can be found on their website.

If you have any questions, please contact the University REF Team at