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EDAP reviewed submitted codes of practice in mid-2019 and advised the four UK higher education funding bodies on each code’s adherence to published guidance. Reporting on this work, the panel describes the progress made by many institutions since the 2014 REF in promoting and supporting equality and diversity within universities. The codes evidenced this across several areas, including in the appointment of equality-related roles, support and mentoring for staff, and engagement with key charters and frameworks.

The vast majority of codes were judged to have adhered to the guidance, with many showing areas of good practice in embedding equality and diversity in REF submission processes. Commenting on the processes in place for identifying staff with significant responsibility for research, EDAP noted the inclusive and supportive nature described across many codes, with a commitment shown to increasing clarity around employment expectations.

The report also describes common areas where a minority of codes fell short of the guidance, requiring amendments to be made prior to approval. EDAP provided advice on the required amendments and the report details the recommendations that EDAP made for improvement. Following amendment, all codes were considered acceptable.

Codes of practice describe the processes each institution will follow in submitting staff and outputs in REF 2021. All participating institutions were required to submit a code of practice in 2019 as one of the key measures supporting equality and diversity in the REF.


  • EDAP’s report is available here.
  • EDAP’s report was produced in late 2019 and was due for publication in early 2020, alongside approved codes of practice. Publication was delayed when the exercise was put on hold, due to COVID-19.
  • Codes of practice have now been published on the REF website, following any amendments made by institutions to REF processes in light of the revisions made to exercise.