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?

  • Inform the allocation of block-grant research funding to HEIs based on research quality
  • Provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment
  • Provide insights into the health of research in HEIs in the UK

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.

For the purposes of the REF, research is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared.

Latest news

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  • Using HESA data in REF 2029

    The Initial Decisions outlined the funding bodies’ intention to calculate the volume measure for REF 2029 using data held in the HESA staff record. In today’s release we are confirming some further detail of this policy and opening the opportunity to participate in a working group with representatives from HESA/JISC and the community to co-develop…

  • REF 2029 advisory panel recruitment

    We are pleased to announce you can now apply to be a member of the REF 2029 advisory panels.   Applications are now open for:   You have until midday on Monday 24 June 2024 to submit your application. We will only consider applications received before this deadline.   We are seeking a broad representation of people, experience,…

  • People, Culture and Environment Pilot Assessment Panels

    We are pleased to announce you can now apply to take part in the REF People, Culture and Environment (PCE) pilot as a member of an assessment panel. You have until midday on 12 July 2024 to submit your application. We will only consider applications received before this deadline.   We are seeking a broad representation…