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 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…

  • Expressions of interest now open for People, Culture and Environment Indicators workshops

    We are pleased to announce you can now submit expressions of interest to attend the People, Culture and Environment (PCE) indicators workshops. These will be used to co-develop indicators for the assessment of the People, Culture and Environment (PCE) element of REF 2029. You can find further details of the workshops, the timeline and how…

  • 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…