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Universities across the UK have received a letter today confirming midday on 31 March 2021 as the revised deadline for submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF). This follows a survey asking for views on a timescale for REF 2021, which was postponed because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The exercise is scheduled to resume on 31 July 2020, eight months ahead of the revised submission deadline. Updated guidance on any revisions to the exercise will be published by then, following a further period of engagement with universities and other partners. The staff census date of 31 July 2020 remains unchanged.

In recognition of ongoing uncertainty about the effects of COVID-19, the UK funding bodies which manage the REF have set a review date in November 2020. The review will consider the level of disruption being experienced, and whether further contingency arrangements for the REF may be necessary.

The letter also confirms an extension to the period in which examples of impact may occur in order to be eligible for submission. The extended assessment period for impact will run from 1 August 2013 to 31 December 2020, an extension from the previous end date of 31 July 2020.

Commenting on the decisions, Dr Steven Hill, Director of Research at Research England and Chair of the REF Steering Group, said:

“We received an excellent response to the survey, from a wide range of organisations, groups and individuals.

“This has been incredibly valuable to our decision-making process. We carefully considered the arguments that were set out, alongside the clear preferences shown for the March deadline and impact extension in terms of numbers alone, and were persuaded that these options best met our criteria for revisions to the exercise.”

With the revised submission deadline now in place, amended timings for the REF panel nominations process are expected to be confirmed shortly.

Further information can be found on the REF 2021 website.