Research Excellence Framework (REF)

About the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies to assess the quality of research in UK higher education. The next REF will be in 2021.

The aim of the REF is to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base within UK higher education by:

  • providing accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment
  • providing bench-marking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the higher education sector and for public information
  • informing the selective allocation of funding for research.

    REF 2021 will be happening soon.

UWE Bristol’s approach to REF 2021

UWE Bristol’s ambition is to achieve “world-class performance in selected areas of research that meets the needs of our community, a sustainable economy and society and feeds the scholarship and enquiry that underpins our learning and teaching” - from our Research with Impact 2020 Strategy.

Following our success in REF 2014, we recognise REF 2021 as a further important measure of our progress, a milestone in our development to establish critical volume and ensure the sustainability of our research. Successful engagement with the REF is the means by which we seek to maximise the benefits to the University but also to implement a process that is rigorous, transparent and fair and which is increasingly inclusive.

UWE Bristol's approach to REF 2021 is set out in a Code of Practice (PDF) and appendices (PDF) that sets out the principles, processes and procedures we will apply in developing our REF 2021 submission.

Further information for staff preparations for REF 2021 can be found on the staff intranet.

To find out more about some of the great impacts that research at UWE Bristol has made please visit our Research with impact page.

For further information on UWE Bristol's approach to REF 2021 please contact Richard Bond, REF Manager at

UWE Bristol REF 2014

The volume of world-leading research at UWE Bristol has gone up by 170%, according to the results of the REF 2014.


For REF 2014, UWE Bristol submitted to 17 Units of Assessment (UOA).

In total, 323 staff were entered of which 55 were Early Career Researchers. Overall, the submission consisted of 1,138 research outputs (eg articles, book chapters, books, artworks, videos, exhibitions, conference contributions) produced within the REF census period from January 2008 to December 2013.


The results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 were confirmed on Thursday 18 December 2014. See the REF 2014 results for UWE Bristol.