Hosted by the University Research Excellence Framework Committee (UREFC) and REF Team, the workshop summarised our REF2014 Submission and defined the steps required to prepare the institution for the next REF (circa 2018). The REF or Research Excellence Framework is the periodic exercise used to evaluate the quality, depth, and impact of university research and sets the Quality Research (or QR) income received annually by the University from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to support our research environment (currently just over £4m per annum).
Responding to the challenge of increasingly rigorous expectations for research quality and funding, Westminster pursued a strategy of improving its REF quality profile while maximising staff numbers submitted and was successful in making a very sizeable submission - in 13 subject areas - while also adhering to exacting thresholds for research quality. The University also fielded other new challenges in the 2014 exercise, as for the first time the REF included a major additional element to assess the real-world impact of University research and an increasingly prominent role for equality and diversity considerations within the process.
The preparations for the submission were led by Professor Graham Megson, PVC for Research and Knowledge Exchange, supported by the University REF2014 Committee and a core team of professional staff reflecting the REF2014 main subject groupings and submission requirements. Submissions in individual subject areas were led by Faculty Research Directors and Unit of Assessment Leads, with an additional network of academic and professional support colleagues contributing to specific sub-components of the submission. These groups were well represented at the event which provided a valuable opportunity to capture and discuss feedback about the exercise.
The celebratory event afterwards marked the end of the submission phase and the PVC thanked everyone involved for their endeavours in producing the high quality return submitted on 25 November 2013. The Vice Chancellor, in his presentation, explored the wider developments in the HE sector and gave some insight into the continuing role of research in the evolving institutional strategy for 2015-2020.
The event highlighted the need to maintain momentum in the early post-REF period, including enhancing internal data collection processes, and more importantly mentoring staff close to submission so that they are well positioned in the future.
The core team is currently busy with REF2014’s extensive programme of audit and verification; preparing for the publication of the REF2014 results in December 2014; and developing the post REF2014 action plan and forward plan for 2020.
The results will be announced on 18 December 2014 with publication of the submissions, panel overview reports and sub-profiles following in Spring 2015.