The next Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise has been pushed back to 2029. The national assessment of the UK’s higher education institutions’ research quality has previously been carried out on a seven-year cycle by the UK’s four higher education funding bodies with the last two taking place in 2021 and 2014 and the next originally slated for 2028.

However, according to an announcement in early December, the next REF will be in 2029, with results published in December that year. The extension has been agreed following feedback from a 2023 consultation on key decisions regarding the next REF which represents a shift towards a broader and more holistic approach to the research assessment.

The additional year has been provided in recognition of the complexities for higher education institutions in preparation for using Higher Education Statistics Agency data to determine REF volume measures, fully breaking the link between individual staff and institutional submissions, and the reworking of institutional codes of practice. The REF team said it would provide an updated timeline ‘as soon as possible’.

Further decisions will be announced in spring 2024 and will provide more detail on points of policy for the forthcoming REF cycle.