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On 24 March 2020 the REF was put on hold until further notice in order to recognise that, in light of COVID-19, institutions are needing to divert staff resource to other critical areas, including for those in clinical and health-related fields. The REF team wished to reassure institutions that such activities could be prioritised without concern for the effect on REF preparations. As part of the development of contingency arrangements for the exercise, the REF team ran a webinar for institutions on 21 April, setting out the two issues on which we sought views in an online survey. These were the timing of the submission deadline, and whether or not to extend the assessment period for impact. The survey was open for two weeks, closing on 5 May 2020.

This document summarises responses to the survey.

Key points

The survey sought views on two questions, as follows:

  • Preferences for the revised REF submission deadline
  • Preferences for the end of the impact assessment period as an initial step towards taking account of the effect of COVID-19 on impact submissions

Responses to Question 1, concerning the revised REF submission deadline, indicated a preference for a short extension to the submission deadline to March 2021. This preference was stronger among HEIs; responses from individuals indicated more mixed preferences.

Responses to Question 2, concerning the impact assessment period, indicated a preference for a universal extension to the assessment period to December 2020. Divergent arguments were made by respondents favouring either the universal extension or keeping the end of July 2020.

Action required

This document is for information.