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To accompany the final guidance and criteria for REF 2021, the REF Steering Group has set out its rationale relating to decisions on some of the new aspects of the framework, including:

  • staff with significant responsibility for research
  • independent researchers
  • non-portability
  • eligibility of outputs of former staff who have been made redundant
  • open access.

The REF Steering Group comprises members of each of the UK higher education funding bodies (the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Research England, and the Scottish Funding Council). It is chaired by the Director of Research at Research England and serviced by representatives from the REF team.

The group has responsibility for matters of policy and the programme of work, agreeing collective recommendations on the high-level framework and putting these forward to the boards of the funding bodies. The Steering Group signs off key guidance developed by the REF team, provides oversight of key implementation risks, and agrees the draft REF budget to put forward for approval from the funding bodies. The group also draws the REF team’s attention to matters of importance or sensitivity within the devolved territories, and acts as the final arbiter in REF 2021-related appeals or disputes.

This document should be read alongside the ‘Guidance on submissions’ and ‘Panel criteria and working methods’.