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. In March 2021, the University submitted to the most recent exercise – REF2021. The results of REF 2021 were published by the funding bodies in May 2022.

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.

UWE Bristol’s approach to REF 2021

UWE Bristol’s ambition is that "through our research, we will transform the future, advance knowledge, support sustainable economic growth and development, enhance social and cultural development, promote health and wellbeing, equality and diversity, and the quality of built and natural environments" - from our Transforming Futures 2020-2030 Research 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 applied in developing our REF 2021 submission.

Further information about 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 breaking research boundaries section.

For further information on UWE Bristol's approach to REF 2021 please contact Mark Tomlinson-Lane, Research Excellence Manager at

UWE Bristol REF 2021

76% of UWE Bristol research is classified as World-leading and Internationally Excellent.


For REF 2021, UWE Bristol submitted to 13 Units of Assessment (UOA).

UWE Bristol submitted 913 research outputs and 41 case studies.


The results of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 were published on Thursday 12 May 2022. See the REF 2021 results for UWE Bristol.

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