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Lord Stern’s independent review makes recommendations on the future operation of the REF. It examines how university research funding can be allocated more efficiently so that universities can focus on carrying out world-leading research.

The consultation proposals build on the implementation of REF 2014 and incorporate the principles identified in Lord Stern’s Independent Review of the REF.

It included proposals intended to reduce the burden associated with the REF process while maintaining and improving incentives for research excellence.

These include recommendations relating to:

  • The submission of staff and outputs
  • The approach to the assessment of impact
  • The introduction of an institutional level assessment.
Key points
  • We favour the existing, REF 2014 Unit of Assessment structure and recommend that it should be retained for REF 2021 to give a consistent approach to the assessment.
  • We support the inclusion in REF of all research-active staff that independently lead their own research activity. However a more precise definition is required in the description of ‘independent’ researchers.
  • We welcome the opportunity to submit research outputs variably across our staff and the greater flexibility intended by the proposed measures. However the university would be uncomfortable with the minimum requirement of outputs specified in the review.
  • We believe non-portability of outputs may be detrimental to Early Career Researchers if implemented without measures taken to mitigate this impact. If the proposals are taken forward for REF2021, ECRs should be exempt from non-portability rules in order that they can develop their careers without any unintended impediment due to the requirements of REF.
  • We are strongly in favour of the appointment of interdisciplinary champions on the sub-panel for the assessment of interdisciplinary research.

Read the university’s full response to the consultation here.


What comes next?

Following submission of the University’s response and taking into account views of the Higher Education sector initial decisions on the next REF will be published during autumn 2017.