Preparing for REF 2029 in FoNS

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the excellence of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs) and the outcomes inform the allocation of ~£2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research.

The next scheduled REF exercise, REF2029, will be submitted to Research England in Autumn 2028. There will be significant changes to the requirements from REF2021, many of which are yet to be confirmed and are subject to consultation. Research England’s Initial decisions document has highlighted a number of fundamental changes to the requirement and also the weighting applied to each element;

  • People, culture and environment - 25% weighting (up from 15% in 2021). Replaces the environment element and will be expanded to include research culture. It will comprise a Unit level submission (20%) and an institutional statement (5%).
  • Contribution to knowledge and understanding - 50% weighting (down from 60% in 2021). Replaces the outputs element. Primarily remains based on assessment of research outputs (45%) but will also include a statement on broader contribution to the discipline (5%).
  • Engagement and impact (25% weighting). Replaces the impact element. Akin to the impact assessment in REF 2014, i.e. a combination of impact case studies (20%) and an accompanying statement (5%).

The current timetable for REF2029 is;

  • Spring 2024 - nominations open for REF panel member
  • Summer 2025 – draft guidance and panel criteria published for consultation
  • Winter 25/26 – Publish final guidance and criteria
  • Autumn 2028 – Submission deadline
  • December 2029 – Publication of results

FoNS has established a REF Steering Group to oversee the faculty’s preparation for REF 2029 and departments will be consulted as the guidance is confirmed.

Please contact Craig Bryce, the Faculty REF co-ordinator, if you have any queries.