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Research Excellence Framework

Today the four UK higher education funding bodies (Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for the Economy, NI) have launched a consultation on the future UK-wide research assessment system.

The consultation forms one element of the Future Research Assessment Programme (FRAP). Its outcomes will contribute to the broad evidence base being compiled by the funding bodies, alongside a range of evaluations and analyses of the current Research Excellence Framework and advice from the FRAP International Advisory Group.

The consultation offers respondents the opportunity to voice their opinions on the purposes of future exercises, the high-level principles that should underpin their development, as well as future assessment criteria and processes. The consultation also seeks views on how the funding bodies might ensure that bureaucracy is proportionate in future exercises.

‘Consultation is central to FRAP. The REF is a sector-owned exercise, developed and undertaken in partnership with the research community. It is crucial that those who work in and engage with the research sector have their voices heard at this early stage in the development of the next exercise. By holding the consultation at this point, we hope the sector will be able to contribute meaningfully to the design. Running it alongside our evaluations of REF 2021 should also enable us to provide early clarity on the shape of the next exercise and develop a system that is built on robust evidence and reflects the priorities of the sector.’

Catriona Firth, Associate Director for Research Environment, Research England

‘We know that REF plays a key role in driving high-quality research with significant social impact. As the current exercise comes to close, it is important we reflect on the opportunities we have to ensure that a future system continues to drive this, while also supporting a positive research culture and meaningful and diverse research careers. The consultation will help us to understand what the sector wants from an exercise and how we can best achieve these goals.’

Morag Campbell, Assistant Director, Research & Innovation, Scottish Funding Council

The funding bodies will be holding a number of online ‘town hall’ events throughout the consultation period. Further information on dates and how to register will be made available on the FRAP website in the coming weeks.

The consultation runs until noon on 6th May 2022. A summary of responses will be published alongside the outcomes from FRAP in autumn 2022.