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The survey was conducted in April 2020, and sought views on preferences around the timing of the revised submission date for the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), and views on the value of extending the assessment period for impact. This followed the funding bodies’ decision to put the REF on hold in March 2020, while institutions respond to the effects of Covid-19.

Nearly 650 responses were made to the survey from a wide range of organisations, groups and individuals, including universities, subject bodies, and representative groups. Based on preliminary analysis, the funding bodies are continuing to explore a revised submission deadline in March 2021. Detailed analysis of survey responses is now being finalised. This work, along with a preliminary equality impact assessment, will inform the funding bodies’ confirmed decision in the coming weeks on both the submission deadline and assessment period for impact.

We expect to announce the funding bodies’ decision next month, and will publish a summary of responses alongside this. Further engagement activity to consider possible mitigations for affected areas of submissions is expected to follow thereafter.


  • The four UK higher education 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). 
  • Read further information about the webinar and consultation survey here.
  • Read the letter to HEIs about changes to the REF timetable here.