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Update on REF 2021 contingency planning

Research excellence framework 2021 logo, yellow and white lettering to grey background

A further update on the REF 2021 and University preparations for it.

The funding bodies have been working on contingency plans for the exercise. Through several statements, the funding bodies have made clear that:

  • There remains a firm commitment for the exercise to take place
  • The submission date has been postponed but that there is currently no intention to alter significantly the period or census dates for REF 2021
  • Contingency planning is focused on ensuring the exercise will take fair account of specific areas affected by COVID-19
  • Changes may be made in relation to impact and publication periods – but it is not yet clear whether these would be applied in exceptional circumstances or more widely.

Discussions with the sector about these issues are taking place this week.

Our working assumption is therefore that the REF will take place with a revised submission deadline to be announced in the next few months. Changes in publication and impact periods are likely to have a limited effect on our submission. It is therefore appropriate that, as far as possible, we continue with our REF preparation broadly as planned. This approach will enable us to progress and optimise key aspects of our submission whilst ensuring we can focus on addressing specific changes in requirements once these are known. In doing so, we also want to ensure that we take into consideration the challenges our colleagues may be facing in the current situation.

To this end, we have increased flexibility in our internal processes. UOA Leads will work with colleagues in UOAs to enable progress at a pace that is appropriate for the unit’s circumstances, highlighting areas where flexibility on deadlines is recommended. We are also putting in place a process for impact case study authors to request extensions to deadlines, where they have significantly been impacted by personal circumstances or additional factors as a consequence of COVID-19.

Your support during the coming months will enable us to be as ready as possible when a new submission date is announced. As far as possible, please continue to upload published outputs, engage with ROSS, peer-review and other processes.

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