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Subject associations and other organisations with an interest in the quality, conduct, funding or wider use of research are invited to nominate candidates for the REF sub-panels. The deadline for submitting nominations is noon, 3 April 2020. 

The REF is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The exercise is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies and the assessment will take place during 2021. It was first carried out in 2014, replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise. The REF is a process of expert review, carried out by expert sub-panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment, under the guidance of four main panels. 

We are now seeking to appoint panel members and assessors with specific expertise to finalise the membership of the sub-panels. This includes the appointment of both practising researchers and individuals with professional experience of making use of, applying or benefitting from academic research. 

Members were first appointed to the sub-panelin 2017, to undertake the task of developing the assessment criteria. In early 2020, following analysis of universities’ submission intentions, the sub-panels identified where additional appointments are now required to ensure each has an appropriate breadth of expertise and volume of panel members necessary for the assessment phase. 

The funding bodies are seeking nominations of candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds, institution types and geographical region. We particularly welcome nominations of candidates from under-represented groups, including in particular people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. 


  • The four funding bodies are the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), Research England, and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). 
  • Full details about how to make nominations is available at 
  • Sub-panels will consider new nominations alongside candidates nominated in 2017, but not appointed at that stage. 
  • A guide for individuals with experience in making use of, applying or benefitting from academic research that are interested in participating in REF 2021 is available at