UK’s next REF postponed ‘until further notice’

Research Excellence Framework 2021 put on hold to allow universities to focus research efforts on virus battle

March 24, 2020
Source: istock

The Research Excellence Framework 2021 is to be postponed “until further notice” amid the coronavirus crisis.

In a letter published on 24 March, Kim Hackett, REF director at Research England, says that the UK-wide audit of research outputs will be postponed to allow institutions to divert staff into other areas, “including for those working in clinical and health-related fields".

“We wish to reassure institutions that such activities should be prioritised without concern for the effect on REF preparations,” says Ms Hackett, adding that Research England was “putting the exercise on hold until further notice to enable this, and are now working on the adapted details of the framework.”

In practice, this means that the original submission deadline on 27 November 2020 “will no longer apply”, her letter explains.

“We will announce a new submission deadline no later than eight months prior to the deadline,” it adds, also confirming that the current REF census date of 31 July 2020 would remain unchanged.

However, Research England will ensure that “full allowance is made for the impact of coronavirus across affected areas of submissions”, the letter says.

Ms Hackett explains that Research England is “at an early stage of understanding the full impact on universities as they respond to calls to support the national effort in the face of COVID-19”, but would consult about changing the REF “when we have greater clarity about the period of serious disruption to universities.”

“We will aim for the consultation activity to be as light touch as possible, in view of these challenging times,” Ms Hackett says.

She adds that the 3 April deadline for nominations to the expert panels no longer applies and that nominations may “continue to be made until further notice.”

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