Research Excellence

Research Excellence

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. It first took place in 2014, then in 2021 and the next exercise is scheduled to be submitted in 2029. The REF outcomes are used to inform the allocation of approximately £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research. The REF is a process of expert review, carried out by sub-panels focused on subject-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of overarching main panels and advisory panels. Panels are made up of senior academics, international members, and research users.

What is the purpose of REF?

  • 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 Higher Education sector and for public information.
  • To inform the selective allocation of funding for research.

For the purposes of the REF, research is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared.

The University of Northampton submitted to both REF2014 and REF2021 and currently preparing to submit to REF2029.

The results of these exercises evidence that the research undertaken at the University and the resulting outputs, and the impact is recognised as being internationally excellent in many areas.

In REF2021

  • 79% of our submission was classified as internationally recognised, internationally excellent and world leading.
  • Our impact in Education was ranked equal first in the UK for international/world leading research.

More information and updates on REF2029 can be found on the REF2029 website.

REF 2021

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REF 2029

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