You need cookies enabled to use this website.
For the current REF, see the REF 2029 website | For REF 2014, see the REF 2014 website
You need cookies enabled

Executive summary


1. The Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR require institutions to inform their staff and other stakeholders as to how data about them that are submitted to the REF will be used. To assist institutions in ensuring that individuals included in their submissions are aware of these uses, we have provided a model staff data collection statement for REF 2021, which institutions can adapt to their own circumstances.  The document also includes a model data collection statement for non-staff stakeholders.

Key points

2. We will collect, store and process all information submitted by HEIs to the REF in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. Information will be submitted to the REF via a secure website. HEIs will be able to access only their own institution’s data, except in the case of joint submissions where HEIs can grant access to other HEIs in the joint submission. Information will be processed for the purposes of conducting and evaluating the REF. Information may be shared with other organisations to facilitate this, and will be shared with panel members (comprising panel chairs, members, assessors, advisers, secretaries and observers) for the purpose of assessing submissions. Panel members are all bound by confidentiality and data security arrangements.

3. We will extract and pass to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) the following data to enable verification: for each individual submitted as research-active in Category A, their Unit of Assessment, HESA staff identifier code, and date of birth. We will use information from HEIs to monitor the diversity of staff selected for the REF. We will also publish parts of submissions on the internet.

Action required

4. This document is for information and to guide institutions in informing data subjects how their information will be used in the REF. This document should not be used as-is; if HEIs wish to use this document, they should amend as appropriate to their circumstances.

Further information

5. Enquiries from members of staff at UK HEIs should be directed in the first instance to their institutional REF contact:

6. Other enquiries should be addressed to