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Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 and equality

Advance HE's work on the REF 2021 Advance HE (formerly the ECU) has been working with the UK higher education funding bodies to embed equality considerations into exercises to assess the quality of research.

Ellen Pugh, Senior Adviser at Advance HE was previously a member, and is now an adviser to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP) which has been established to advise the UK higher education funding bodies, the REF team and the REF panels on the implementation of equality measures in the REF 2021.

In response to requests from members, Advance HE has developed and delivered in house equality and unconscious bias training for staff involved in their institutions REF 2021 processes.

Find out more about our in-house development programmes and training. 

Advance HE also ran a series of national events in Spring 2019 to support the sector implement the equality requirements of REF 2021. Materials developed for those events, including guidance on equality impact assessment, are only available to HEIs who attended.

Advance HE's work on the REF 2014

ECU (now Advance HE) was a member of the Equality and Diversity Advisory Group for REF 2014 and an observer on EDAP. ECU was also commissioned by the four UK funding councils to develop materials for panels, subpanels and units of assessment to support them in meeting the equality requirements of the REF 2014 Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions. This included a pack of materials for delivering equality and diversity training to staff and committees responsible for selecting staff for submission to the REF.

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Research Excellence Framework 2014: Equality and diversity training materials: handbook for trainers


Equality impact assessments

Equality impact assessments (EIA) are a tool to help colleges and universities ensure that their policies, practices and decisions are fair, meet the needs of their staff and students and that they are not inadvertently discriminating against any protected group.

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ECU’s (now Advance HE's) work on REF 2008 / Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008

RAE 2008 was replaced with the REF to be completed in 2014.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) commissioned ECU to conduct research into the impact of the process to promote equality and diversity in RAE 2008. The report focuses on the impact of the exercise on women, black and minority ethnic staff, disabled staff, and early-career researchers.

The report can be read alongside the UK higher education funding bodies own research on the selection of staff for inclusion in RAE 2008.

Good practice examples were published alongside the report but have since been replaced by materials produced for the REF 2014.

ECU was also commissioned to write an equality briefing for RAE panel chairs, members and secretaries. It provided an overview of the equality issues and legal framework at the time and has now been archived.

Additional resources

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Research Excellence Framework 2014 Staff disclosure

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Equality impact assessment and the Research Excellence Framework

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Developing a Code of Practice for REF 2014