Coronavirus REF Update

Some of you may be wondering whether our preparations for REF2021 are likely to be affected by the Coronavirus outbreak and whether the REF Team (Research England and the other UK HE finding bodies) are planning for this.  All HEIs received the following from them today:

“Update on coronavirus (COVID-19) contingency planning

The REF team has written to heads of institutions to outline the UK higher education funding bodies’ current position in relation to contingency planning for coronavirus for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

1. This letter outlines the UK higher education funding bodies’ current position in relation to contingency planning for coronavirus for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. It is for information only; no action is required.

2. We are aware that there is the potential for coronavirus to affect HEIs’ REF submission preparations. We would like to reassure institutions that the REF team are currently engaged in contingency planning for the REF. We are examining a range of possible options to mitigate potential effects.

3. We need to ensure that we can respond proportionately to the level of any effect on submission preparation. It is not yet clear what the nature and degree of an effect will be, but we will remain engaged with institutions in the coming weeks to gather further information as the situation develops. This is a constantly evolving situation, and we will continue to monitor and take necessary actions in line with government advice.

4. At the point where we can assess the nature and degree of the effect, we will also need to assess the consequences of any steps we take for both the delivery of the exercise, as well as for institutions directly. Any final decision will require discussion and detailed consideration, which we are committed to doing with institutions.

5. We will keep institutions informed as any decisions are taken on this matter.”

We’ll let you know when we hear anything further.

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