Research Environment and the REF

The HEC meeting of 27 April 2012 agreed new guidance in relation to the ‘research environment’ element of the REF assessment criteria. While UCU remains opposed to the REF and believes that the definitions of ‘research-only’ staff within the assessment criteria are deeply problematic, the ‘research environment’ criteria refers to a ‘people’ element which provides an opportunity for branches/LAs to advance UCU’s agenda in relation to job security and career development for research staff.

The ‘people’ element requires that institutions demonstrate the extent to which they supports research staff (not just those being returned), including early career researchers and those on fixed-term contracts.

UCU guidance on this has now been issued as UCUHE151, setting out suggested actions that branches/LAs should take in referring to the ‘people’ element in order to secure better treatment and career development opportunities for research staff: See:

Updated guidance for branches/LAs in relation to the REF was circulated at the end of March in HE circular UCUHE141. See:

Aberdeen UCU is providing input into the local policy through PNCC - the local negotiating body.

The deadline for HEIs to submit their codes of practice on the submission of staff to the REF is 31 July 2012.We are seeking input from UCU HQ to ensure that the codes is equality proofed, and that they set out consistent and transparent internal decision-making procedures on submission across schools/ departments within institutions, together with adequate appeals procedures.

In addition to the UCU guidance, the Equality Challenge Unit has developed a range of materials on the REF – including guidance on conducting equality impact assessments and on the disclosure of individual staff circumstances – to which branches should also refer: See: