Research Excellence Framework


At the end of January 2019 the four UK Higher Education Funding Bodies - Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE) – published the guidance on submissions for the next Research Excellence Framework or REF2021.

The purpose of the Research Excellence Framework is:

  • to provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment
  • to provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE sector and for public information
  • to inform the selective allocation of funding for research.

The REF is a process of expert review, carried out by expert panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of four main panels. Expert panels are made up of senior academics, international members, and research users.

For each submission, three distinct elements are assessed: the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions), their impact beyond academia, and the environment that supports research.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the original REF2021 submission date of November 2020 was deferred to March 2021.

Find out more information about REF2021.

Equality Impact Assessment

The University prepared an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) on its Code of Practice for Submission to REF2021 in early 2020. The EIA gave assurance to those involved in managing the REF submission that no single group was significantly adversely affected by the policies and processes being implemented to prepare the REF2021 submission. The final report to the Research England REF2021 team sets out what has been done and the action plan for the post-REF submission period.

Download the University of Hertfordshire REF2021 Equality Impact Assessment (DOCX - 0.04 Mb)

Code of Practice

Each institution making a submission to REF2021 is required to develop, document and apply a code of practice on the fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research; determining who is an independent researcher; and the selection of outputs.

Read the University of Hertfordshire's REF Code of Practice (PDF - 0.51 Mb).

Open Access

Our framework for Open Access at the University describes the policy, resources, processes and reporting that support Open Access at the University.

Read the University's Open Access Framework (DOCX - 0.27 Mb).


The national Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the key method of assessing the quality of research at British higher education institutions. The outcome of the REF informs the allocation of around £2billion worth of funding awarded to UK universities each year by the major research councils.

In the 2014 REF over half of our research was assessed as world-leading and internationally excellent and overall, over ninety percent was judged to be of international quality. We made submissions to twelve units of assessments: Allied Health, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy; Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience; Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science; Physics; Computer Science and Informatics; General Engineering; Business and Management Studies; English Language and Literature; History; Philosophy; Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory; Music, Dance, Drama and performing Arts.

Find out more details on our REF2014 submission and results.