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1.  Following recent confirmation of the new submission deadline for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, I am writing to update all nominating bodies on the revised timings for nominating candidates to the REF sub-panels. The latest date by which nominations will be accepted is noon, 7 September 2020. Where possible and appropriate, nominating bodies are invited to submit nominations before this date.

2.  As you may be aware, the current nominations’ call is for additional members and assessors with expertise in specific areas, to ensure each sub-panel has an appropriate breadth of expertise and volume of panel members necessary for the assessment of REF submissions. We are inviting nominating bodies to submit nominations in advance of the 7 September deadline, where possible and appropriate, in light of revisions to the framework and the likely additional pressures on potential panel members’ time and availability due to COVID-19. This will allow sub-panel executives to review nominations on a rolling basis and therefore to better understand the remaining areas where nominees with specific expertise may be required. As part of this process, sub-panel executives may engage directly with the relevant subject communities on the overall timing and spread of anticipated nominations.

3.  The process for making nominations remains the same and further information on how to make nominations can be found here: I would also like to underline the funding bodies’ aim to achieve a diverse pool of nominations, for candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds, institution types and geographical region. We particularly welcome nominations of candidates from under-represented groups, including people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

4.  The revised timeframe for the assessment work by the panels is May 2021 to February 2022. Planning activity is currently underway to adapt the assessment approach and meeting schedule, to take account of the anticipated effects of coronavirus during the period in which the assessment will take place. A revised schedule of meetings is therefore not yet available, but nominees should be willing and able to undertake the volume of assessment activity corresponding to their nominated role on the panel during period May 2021 to February 2022.

Further information

5.  The previous deadline for nominations was 3 April 2020, which was lifted when the funding bodies decided to put the REF on hold in response to the COVID-19 situation. At that time, the REF team committed to providing appropriate notice of a new deadline for nominations.

6.  The funding bodies have confirmed the revised timing of the overall exercise, which is due to resume on 31 July 2020, with a deadline for submissions by higher education institutions of 31 March 2021. Further information on the overall timing of the REF can be found here:

7.  If you have any queries, or require further information on the process for making nominations, please contact

Dr Kim Hackett

REF Director