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The key purposes of the REF are:

  • to inform the selective allocation of funding for research
  • 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 in the higher education sector and for public information.

This major exercise is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies (the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland).

The REF was first conducted in 2014, replacing the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

The development of the next exercise is now well underway:

Main Panel A: Medicine, health and life sciences
Professor John Iredale, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health), University of Bristol

Main Panel B: Physical sciences, engineering and mathematics
Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research), University College London

Main Panel C: Social sciences
Professor Jane Millar OBE, Professor of Social Policy, University of Bath

Main Panel D: Arts and humanities
Professor Dinah Birch CBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact, University of Liverpool

Read details of the process to appoint the panel chairs.

Download further information on the four REF main panel chairs:

Download the REF_main_panel_chair_biographies as MS Word (286 KB)


Page last updated 21 November 2017