As mentioned in the previous COVID-19 update, Research England have now confirmed that the Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise has been put on hold until further notice. The submission deadline of 27 November 2020 will no longer apply, and institutions will be informed of a new submission deadline no later than eight months in advance. The REF staff census date of 31 July 2020 remains unchanged.
The delay reflects a recognition of the significant impact on Universities and their colleagues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the urgent need to re-direct expertise, knowledge and resources towards global solutions, in particular for those working in clinical and health-related fields.
Staff at the University have helped to repurpose internal and external pump-priming grants that cannot now be used as originally intended. This means up to £400k has been allocated to the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences for immediate COVID-19 research, in advance of applications to external funders.
Research Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellors and wider colleagues are coordinating the University’s response to both national and global need and maximising contributions to these endeavours. One important national initiative is the COVID-19 Outbreak Expert Database which is being created by UK Parliament’s Knowledge Exchange Unit (KEU) to give Parliament quick access to researchers who can provide expert insights relating to both Coronavirus and the wider situation. If you are a staff member with any expertise relating to COVID-19 or its impacts (for example, on welfare, employment, education and other key areas), and if you would be prepared to provide expert insights to Parliament, please sign up to the database.
As the University awaits further communication from Research England on the revised processes and timetables for REF, the institution is reflecting on its own internal preparations and will work with colleagues, particularly Unit leads on the implications for staff. The University recently reviewed its portfolio of Impact Cases after a year of intensive support and institutional funding and has seen good progress in all the Units of Assessment.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact, Professor Anthony Hollander met recently with the three co-Chairs of the Research Staff Association to understand the range of personal and professional challenges faced by Research Staff during this time, and Unviersity Unit leads are working together to address these challenges.
In partnership with the Academy, the University will continue to provide advice and support to our PGR and PDRA community. Dedicated research staff wellbeing resources are available via the researcher hub.
Researchers will be communicated about further developments, and you can find research funder updates on COVID-19 and relevant FAQs on research-related questions here.