REF 2021

The University’s REF 2021 return was submitted to Research England earlier today in advance of the official deadline at the end of this month.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a periodic peer review of research and impact carried out at UK Higher Education Institutions with expert panels at national level appointed to review research in three distinct categories: Outputs, Impact and Environment.

The last REF was held in 2014, and each iteration of the assessment exercise, held approximately every six years, seeks to reflect the quality of UK research in a changing research environment. REF, much like the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the forthcoming Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), is a method of benchmarking University performance and has a major influence on our future research funding and our institutional reputation. The results of the assessment will be published in April 2022.

Our REF 2021 submission has been in development in earnest since 2017 and the final submission encompassed:

• 1281 research staff returned across 23 Units (100% of eligible staff);
• Early career researchers accounted for 20% of staff returned;
• The research of 57 former staff members were also returned across 17 Units;
• 2811 outputs, incorporating a reduction of 255 outputs as a result of equality related declared individual circumstances in 14 Units;
• 103 Impact Case Studies;
• 23 environment statements and an institutional environment statement.

The submission is the result of the huge efforts of colleagues across the institution and the effectiveness of the process and working practices in optimising our return to this major national exercise.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Janet Beer: “I want to thank colleagues for all their efforts in supporting this REF submission. I know that both academic and professional services staff across the institution have worked tirelessly on each aspect of the submission so as to maximise the quality of our return.

“A significant amount of this work took place over the last 12 months whilst we were all dealing with the wider impact of COVID-19. The robustness of the process is evident in the final output and it is also clear that colleagues have worked together in new and innovative ways that will endure beyond the day of submission.”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact, Professor Anthony Hollander: “This return is the result of the hard work and dedication of all of our staff and particularly those leading and supporting selection and preparation activities. I am extremely grateful and somewhat awestruck in reflecting on the commitment, hard work and dedication demonstrated by colleagues.

“The results in a year’s time will be critical in defining our future strategy but at this point we should celebrate the effectiveness of the process and the efforts of staff.”

A summary of our return will be made available in the coming weeks for all, highlighting our huge range of expertise – from Archaeology to Zoonoses, from Ageing to Zero Carbon and everything in between.

For further information: