Knowledge exchange framework

You can use the knowledge exchange framework (KEF) to explore data and explanations of the different ways universities collaborate with external partners, from businesses to community groups, for the benefit of the economy and society.

The aim of the KEF is to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public funding for knowledge exchange (KE) and to further a culture of continuous improvement in universities. It will allow providers of higher education to better understand and improve their own performance. This information is presented on interactive dashboards. KEF results are published annually.

Developing the KEF

Work to create the KEF began in 2017, when the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation commissioned the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to provide more information about HEP achievements in serving the economy and society for the benefit of the public, business and communities. Research England assumed responsibility for this as part of its wider KE policy and funding remit in April 2018.

You can read more about the development of the KEF and explore associated documentation.

Following publication of the first iteration of KEF results in March 2021, we reviewed the KEF based on feedback from the sector and users. The KEF review report detailing the findings of the review with recommendations for future development was published in February 2022. We subsequently sought feedback from the sector on specific proposals for changes to the second iteration of the KEF via a KEF options survey, along with future direction of travel for the KEF dashboard design and narrative.

Analysis of the survey results, decisions for the design of KEF2 and future iterations were set out in the KEF2 decisions document. KEF2 presented a technical evolution of the first iteration of the KEF, with a refined methodology to ensure even greater accuracy and robustness, and was published in September 2022.

KEF3 was published in September 2023 with a continuation of the methodology, metrics and perspectives used to present KEF2 results.  While there have been no substantive changes to the methodology used from KEF2 to KEF3, the KEF3 decisions document published in June 2023 sets out full details.

KEF narrative statements

The KEF review identified areas where we could develop and improve the narrative statement templates, criteria and guidance before calling for new statements. The review also demonstrated a preference for narrative statement updates to only take place approximately every three years. For these reasons KEF2 continued to display the narrative statements included in the first iteration of the KEF.

KEF3 now includes wholly updated KEF narrative statements for publication alongside updated KEF3 results in September 2023. The updated KEF3 narrative templates and accompanying guidance were published in November 2022.

Find out more

You can read a number of resources including frequently asked questions and detailed information about the mathematical calculations used by the KEF dashboard.

All this information is in the technical notes.

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You can contact us for further information.


Last updated: 24 January 2024

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