Road to REF2021

The road to REF 2021: is the UK leading or lagging in its approach to research assessment?

Wednesday 7 December, 2016

In the UK, a national research assessment exercise has taken place every few years since 1986, and is the basis on which nearly £2 billion of annual funding is parcelled out. As a result, it has huge reach across the university system. In July 2016, Lord Stern published his review of the Research Excellence Framework. To reduce the burden of the assessment process, this review recommends the inclusion of all research active staff, and an end to the portability of research outputs between institutions. He also proposes to broaden the way research impacts are defined.

What will these proposals mean for the design and operation of the next REF? Will the aspiration to reduce burden be realised? How will the prospects of early career researchers be affected? And what ambiguities still need to be resolved? This panel brings together leading thinkers and practitioners to debate the direction of the REF, discuss the key questions in HEFCE’s post-Stern technical consultation, and consider lessons from other assessment systems.

Chair: James Wilsdon (Professor of Research Policy at the University of Sheffield, UK)






  • Steven Hill (Head of Research Policy, HEFCE)
  • Gemma Derrick (Lecturer in Higher Education, University of Lancaster)
  • Gunnar Sivertsen (Professor and special adviser at the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research & Education, Oslo)
  • Cameron Neylon (Professor of Research Communication, Curtin University, Australia)


Watch all the presentations from the event by clicking on the links below.

The event can be viewed in full below or via this link.