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The four UK Higher Education Funding Bodies (Note 1) have announced the appointment of the chairs of the 34 sub-panels for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 (Note 2). The chairs have been appointed following an open application process (Note 3).

The key role of each sub-panel chair is to lead their sub-paneI in developing criteria for the assessment and in consistently applying assessment standards. The chair will also play a key role in engaging with the UK higher education sector on the REF.

A full list of the sub-panel chairs for each of the 34 sub-panel areas is available at

The chairs of the four REF main panels were appointed earlier in the year (Note 4).

Dr Kim Hackett, REF Manager, said:

‘We have had an excellent response to our call for applications to the role of sub-panel chair, which has enabled the funding bodies to appoint an exceptional set of individuals to these key positions. We are also delighted to have achieved a good balance across types of institution and geographical regions with these appointments. The sub-panel chairs now have a key task ahead in recommending panel members, and I look forward to working with them on this task.’


  1. The four UK funding bodies are the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE).
  2. The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK universities and higher education colleges. The results of the REF drive the allocation of public funding for research. This major exercise is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies. It was first conducted in 2014, replacing the Research Assessment Exercise. The development of the next exercise is now well underway.
  3. Details of this process can be found in Annex B of the publication ‘Initial decisions on the Research Excellence Framework 2021’ (REF 2017/01), available at
  4. Details of the four main panel chairs can be found at