Ensuring Equality & Diversity for the REF 2021

Ensuring Equality & Diversity for the REF 2021

Posted by Amanda Furness


Ever since 1986, when it became the first country to embark on assessing the quality of its university research institutions, the UK has been seen as a leader in this important area.

The UK’s Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) are now working towards preparing submissions for 2021’s Research Excellence Framework (REF).  The REF was first introduced in 2014, replacing the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).  Its purpose is to provide an impact evaluation of research conducted and it is carried out every 6 or 7 years.

In the key facts for the 2014 REF , the aims are explained; “The 4 UK higher education funding bodies allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities.  They aim to support a dynamic and internationally competitive UK research sector that makes a major contribution to economic prosperity, national wellbeing and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge.”

As such, the REF is a competitive exercise which is used to decide on the allocation of this research funding.  An important requirement, therefore, is for HEI’s to provide those staff and committee members responsible for selecting staff to the REF with equality and diversity training which has been specifically tailored to REF processes.

Lord Stern’s independent review published in July 2016 , considered the problems and issues regarding the 2014 REF and under selectivity stated, “Measures to promote equality and diversity and mitigate the impact of individuals’ special circumstances in the REF are vital.”

Our trainer Karla Benske can deliver training designed to help HEI’s fulfil this requirement.  The course is entitled, “Equality and Diversity and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021”.

By the the end of this 1-day course participants will:

  • Understand the scope of the Equality Act (2010)
  • Distinguish different types of discrimination, bullying and harassment and its impact on the REF 2021
  • Be able to differentiate types of unconscious bias and how to mitigate its impact on the REF 2021
  • Prepare for, and conduct, difficult conversations

During the past few months, Karla completed 4 days of this training for a Scottish university and here is a taste of the feedback we received:

  • Fresh approach to E&D, enjoyed the ‘thinking about’ scenarios, even though a little uncomfortable.”
  • “Useful session, enjoyed small group which encourages open and honest dialogue.

The participants were asked how likely they would be to recommend the course to a colleague, the average response received was a positive 9 out of 10.

If you would like to find out more about our Equality and Diversity training, please complete our contact form or call us on the number it provides.