Data collection statements for the REF

In line with the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR requirements, institutions need to inform stakeholders of how data about them will be used when it is submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

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About the REF

The purpose of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is to assess the quality of UK research and to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies.

The REF outcomes are used to calculate about £2 billion per year of public funding for universities' research, and it affects their international reputations. The results also inform strategic decisions about national research priorities.

The most recent REF was undertaken in 2021. The REF was first carried out in 2014, replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise. It included for the first time an assessment of the broader impact of universities' research beyond academia: on the economy, society, culture, public policy and services, health, the environment and quality of life – within the UK and internationally.

Impact is assessed through the submission of case studies, which describe the changes or benefits brought about by research carried out by researchers at the institution. Impressive impacts were found across all disciplines, with 44% of submissions judged to be outstanding.

Database of case studies submitted in 2014

Data collection

The REF is managed by the REF team, based at Research England (RE), on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies. RE is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and under this arrangement, UKRI has the role of "data controller" for personal data submitted by us to the REF.

You may have provided information for one or more impact case studies or environment statements as part of our submission to the REF. This information about impact case studies and environment statements was sent to UKRI for the purpose of the REF. The information was not be in coded form and your name and details such as your job title and organisational affiliation may have been provided in these narrative statements. We refer to this information about you as "your data".

You can find further information about what data is being collected on the REF website, in particular, publication 2019/01, "Guidance on submissions". Annex G of that document sets out the data that we will be required to share with UKRI.

Sharing information about you

UKRI may pass your data, or parts of it, to any of the following organisations that need it to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research and to carry out their statutory functions connected with funding higher education:

  • Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE)
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

UKRI and the organisations listed above will use the information to analyse and monitor the REF. This may result in information being released to other users including academic researchers or consultants (commissioned by the funding bodies), to carry out research or analysis. This is in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679). Where information not previously published is released to third parties, this will be anonymised where practicable.

UKRI will require that anyone who has access to your data, held in UKRI's records, paper or electronic, will respect its confidentiality and will only process it in accordance with instructions issued for the purposes specified by UKRI.

Parts of your data will be passed to the REF expert panels and the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel for the purpose of conducting a systematic evaluation of submissions, in accordance with predetermined criteria and methods. Panel members are independent of UKRI, and they are bound by confidentiality arrangements.

Publishing information about your part in our submission

The results of the most recent assessment exercise (REF2021) will be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, in May 2022.

Those parts of submissions that contain factual data and textual information about research activity were also be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, and have been made available online.

Published information is likely to include textual information, including impact case studies in which you may be referenced. Your name and job title may be included in this textual information. Other personal details will normally be removed. The University will check all impact case studies and environment templates before submission to ensure that personal information (other than names and job titles) is removed prior to submission.


Accessing your personal data

Under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR, you have the right to see and receive a copy of any personal information that UKRI holds about you. Further information about the Act and GRPR, and guidance on making a subject access request, can be found on the UKRI website.

If you have any concerns about your information being used for these purposes, contact:

Data Protection Officer
UK Research and Innovation
Polaris House
Swindon
SN2 1FL

Email: dataprotection@ukri.org

The University's own Privacy Notice is available on the Governance and Management website.

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