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The University of Southampton

Research Excellence Framework

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. It informs the allocation of Research England’s mainstream quality-related research (QR) funding.

Southampton submitted to the latest exercise, REF 2021, in advance of the submission deadline on 31 March 2021. The University’s submission featured research from 1413 researchers (1313 FTE) and 104 impact case studies covering 25 Units of Assessment. Nationally, 157 UK universities took part in REF 2021, submitting around 76,000 staff FTE and 6,700 impact case studies. The results will be published on 12 May 2022.

As part of REF 2021, Southampton prepared a Code of Practice for decision-making around staff, outputs and impact. Additionally, the University conducted equality impact assessments to help identify where discrimination may inadvertently occur, concluding the exercise with a final Equality Impact Assessment. You can find the Code of Practice and the final Equality Impact Assessment below

In the previous exercise, REF 2014, Southampton ranked eighth in the UK based on research intensity. Over 96 per cent of the University's research environment was assessed as world-leading and internationally excellent. Nearly 90 per cent of its research was assessed as having world-leading and internationally excellent impact.

The University of Southampton continues to demonstrate high-quality research and global connectivity across a wide range of subjects in Social Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Environmental and Life Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Medicine.

Read more about the real-world impact of our research.

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice framed our decision-making processes in relation to REF 2021 in the context of the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion, and all relevant legislation. It describes how we determined who was an independent researcher for the purposes of REF 2021, and the process for selecting outputs.

Download the Code of Practice for REF 2021

Equality Impact Assessment

The REF 2021 equality impact assessments (EIA) helped to identify where discrimination may inadvertently occur, differential impact on particular groups, and where a particular policy or practice has a positive impact on the advancement of equality.

The EIAs include a qualitative analysis of the policies and procedures for the selection of outputs, and a quantitative analysis of the protected characteristics of staff with significant responsibility for research who have contributed to the outputs pool. Each of the key stages in the selection of outputs was considered and the findings of the EIAs used to inform the final selection of outputs for submission.

Download the Final Equality Impact Assessment for REF 2021.

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