HEPI report on the REF proposals

15 October 2009

Responding to the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) report, “Proposals for the Research Excellence Framework – a critique”, Dr Wendy Piatt, the Director General of The Russell Group of 20 leading research intensive universities, said:

“Like Hepi, The Russell Group welcomes the substantial efforts by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop the Research Excellence Framework (REF) to support and incentivise excellent research. We particularly welcome changes which keeps peer review at the heart of the assessment, informed by metrics where appropriate 

“The Russell Group is broadly supportive of introducing a measure of the economic and social impact of research, provided that this is underpinned by a robust methodology which commands the confidence of the academic community.  As this report highlights, the introduction of impact assessment will be tricky and needs to be handled carefully to avoid instability and creating too many incentives to ‘play the system’.

“As identified in the recent HEFCE consultation there are significant challenges in terms of defining the length of time between research and its impacts, how to attribute impacts to research and providing corroborating case studies. This is why HEFCE’s pilot studies are essential to ensure methods of measuring impact are consistent and strong, and that any lessons are learned before the groundwork for the 2013 REF is put in place." 

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