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The final report of the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP) is now published on the REF website. The report summarises EDAP’s work during REF 2021 and sets out key findings from its review of submitted evidence in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). The report makes recommendations both for consideration in future exercises and for the university research sector more widely.

Reflecting on the range of measures in place for REF 2021 – from new requirements to consider EDI for bodies involved in nominating REF panellists, to the processes in place to recognise the effects of equality-related circumstances on research productivity – the panel describes how the measures have triggered positive change and supported increased fairness and transparency in research careers. For example, through new initiatives to support staff, driving conversations about EDI, increasing awareness and understanding, and engagement with training.

Drawing further on its review of submitted evidence, the panel identifies key areas for further work – both for continuing to drive greater equality in research careers, as well as around the processes for supporting this in any future assessment exercise.

The report’s recommendations therefore offer a rich view on the priorities for a future exercise – including ensuring the process can take account of the inequitable effects of covid on research, examining ways to capture the lived experiences of staff in assessing the environment, and expanding the scope of equality measures to include impact. The recommendations also raise a call for action now – to ensure sharing of good practice and enhancing institutions’ understanding of structural inequalities within the research landscape.

The four UK higher education funding bodies welcome publication of the EDAP’s report, which offers a valuable starting point for examining these issues collectively with the sector. The funding bodies will build on this further in the period ahead, with additional analysis and dialogue drawing on the evidence submitted in REF 2021.


  1. The REF was undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE). REF 2021 was managed on behalf of the funding bodies by a UK team based at Research England.
  2. The Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP) was appointed by the four UK higher education funding bodies to advise them on the development and implementation of measures to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in REF 2021. Further details including membership are available on the REF website under ‘Equality and Diversity’.
  3. EDAP’s final report is available on the REF website under ‘Publications and reports’ from 07:00 on 16 June 2022