Research Excellence Framework

Securing a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education

The REF is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. It first took place in 2014 and 2021. The next exercise is planned for 2029.

What is the REF’s purpose?

  • To provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • To provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the Higher Education sector and for public information.
  • To inform the selective allocation of funding for research.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the excellence of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). The REF outcomes are used to inform the allocation of around £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research. The REF is a process of expert review, carried out by sub-panels focused on subject-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of overarching main panels and advisory panels. Panels are made up of senior academics, international members, and research users.

Latest news

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  • People, Culture and Environment Update March 2024

    We are pleased to announce updates on the development of PCE for REF 2029, and associated community engagement opportunities. These are through:  We are committed to gathering input on PCE with a broad and inclusive approach and encourage all stakeholders to make the most of these opportunities to engage on this important issue for the…

  • The REF 2029 Open Access Policy consultation opens

    The four UK higher education funding bodies have launched a consultation on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2029 Open Access Policy. The consultation will gather a deeper understanding of sector perspectives on key issues and impacts in relation to our policy proposals. The purpose of the REF 2029 Open Access Policy is to outline open…

  • People, Culture and Environment update January 2024

    The REF Steering Group is pleased to announce an update on the development of approaches to the assessment of People, Culture and Environment (PCE) in the next REF exercise. A project has now been commissioned with Technopolis and CRAC-Vitae in collaboration with a number of sector organisations, which will develop indicators to be used for…