REF Introduction

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system from Research England for assessing research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs) and is carried out every six or seven years. The first REF took place in 2014, replacing the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and the latest one was completed in March 2021. The University of Suffolk made its first submission to REF in 2021 and the results were published in May 2022.

The main purposes of the REF are:

  • To provide accountability for public investment in research
  • To provide benchmarking information for use within the Higher Education sector and for public information.
  • To inform the selective allocation of quality-related (QR) funding for research.

The REF assesses three distinct elements the quality of research outputs (60%); the impact of research beyond academia (25%) and the environment that supports research (15%)

Established as a community impact institution in one of the UK’s higher education cold spots, the University of Suffolk incorporates the best university traditions, delivering high-quality higher education that’s fit for the 21st century of employment and entrepreneurship. In just a few years, we’ve built a distinctive, thriving academic community with incisive research that’s driving positive change across our region.

The principles of transparency, consistency, accountability, and inclusivity are at the centre of the processes we have designed in preparation of our first REF submission, and our inclusive ethos underpinned our Code of Practice.

In addition to our excellent REF 2021 results. The University of Suffolk:

  • was successful in retaining the European Commission HR Excellence in Research Award at the 4 -year external review in 2021. 
  • compliant with the Concordat for Open Research Data, and supports open access through our Open Access Repository (OARS).
  • committed to the Declaration on Research Assessment’s responsible use of metrics, and in 2020 implemented a policy for the Use of Metrics in Research.
  • adopting the principles in the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research.
  • embedding support for activities which foster public engagement with research in all our lead strategies.
  • compliant with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, which is supported by our Research Misconduct policy. Our Research and Enterprise committee and Research Management group ensure that our core values of honesty, rigour, transparency, care, respect, and accountability are firmly upheld.