Launch of the future research assessment programme

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The four UK higher education funding bodies are launching the Future Research Assessment Programme.

This programme has been initiated at the request of UK and devolved government ministers and funding bodies. It is a significant piece of work aimed at exploring possible approaches to the assessment of UK higher education research performance.

Through dialogue with the higher education sector, the programme seeks to understand what a healthy, thriving research system looks like and how an assessment model can best form its foundation.

Assessment approach

The programme will investigate possible different approaches to the evaluation of UK higher education research performance. It will look to identify those that can encourage and strengthen the emphasis on delivering excellent research and impact, and support a positive research culture, while simplifying and reducing the administrative burden on the HE sector.

In line with responsible research assessment practices, the programme will evaluate the current Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 exercise. This will include examining the impact of COVID-19 and the mitigations put in place by the REF team.

Alongside this work, the funding bodies will engage in extensive consultation with the HE sector to understand how future assessment exercises might best support a thriving, inclusive and impactful research system in the UK.

A series of engagement events and a formal written consultation will aim to foster bold and creative discussions about the UK’s future research assessment system.
This programme of work is expected to conclude by late 2022.

International advisory group

An international advisory group, chaired by Sir Peter Gluckman (President-elect, International Science Council), has been set up to advise the funding bodies in their evaluation and consultation activities.

The group will also assist in the development and evaluation of options for the future approach to UK-wide research assessment.

Its members will provide a sounding board for emerging ideas, challenging the assumptions and scope of the programme, where appropriate.

Members have been appointed from across the globe and represent a range of expertise and national contexts.

Sir Peter Gluckman said:

I look forward to working with my international colleagues to advise the funding bodies as they explore possible assessment models for the future.

This is an exciting opportunity to consider how national research assessment can form the foundation for a healthy, inclusive and dynamic research system.
It is important that we think about what we value as carefully as how we evaluate it and listen closely to priorities and concerns from across the UK’s research community.

Programme board

A programme board made up of senior representatives from the four funding bodies will have oversight over this bold and ambitious programme. These are:

  • Research England
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
  • Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland.

The Board’s Terms of Reference (PDF, 20.6KB) and programme of work can be downloaded from the Research England website .

Questions or requests for further information should be directed to researchpolicy@re.ukri.org.

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