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Research at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)

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University of Edinburgh Informatics Building

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Research test tubes

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REF 2021 – Guiding investment in UK university research

The Scottish Funding Council, together with the three other UK funding bodies for higher education, is currently carrying out a joint consultation on arrangements for the next assessment of research excellence.

The periodic assessment of research excellence by the four funding bodies is the ultimate guide to the quality of university research in the UK. In 2014 it identified world-leading research in all of Scotland’s universities and showed Scotland leading the UK in areas as diverse as physics, modern languages and agriculture.

The 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) will build on the exercise carried out in 2014 and will incorporate the recommendations of the independent review of REF 2014 carried out by Lord Stern.

Lord Stern’s review found that the UK funding bodies’ approach to assessing research excellence was delivering well against the overall objective to improving quality. Its recommendations for improvement were broadly focussed on reducing the burden on universities and improving incentives for research excellence.

Universities across the UK, including those in Scotland, are now being invited to have their say on the proposals for 2021. As part of the consultation, briefing events are being held in Glasgow, London Manchester and Bristol. A series of webinars will take place between 7 and 14 February.

The REF consultation is open until noon on Friday 17 March.