Research Excellence Framework


What is REF and why do universities put themselves through this?

In short, a large part of our funding for research and our standing within the sector is determined by a great degree by our REF results. The national assessment exercise is run by a team within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Prestige and Public Relations
The outputs for the REF are publicly visible and every university wants to be seen as high quality. The REF gives a high profile measurement of one aspect of a university’s quality. This can be used to support student recruitment and staff recruitment. Have a look at university department websites and you will see statements such as “in 2008 60% of our staff were judged internationally leading in their field”. That is a very powerful statement with obvious benefits. REF outputs and ratings will be used in the league tables.
A proportion of university funding is determined from the quality indicators from the REF. In Scotland, this is known as the “Research Excellence Grant (REG)”, which now consists of two agreements known as an Outcome Agreement (core research funding) and University Innovation Funding (UIF), an additional fund rewarding collaborative working. Within and across UHI, the RAE related income since the last assessment has been approximately £10million.

There is summarised information for UHI research staff within this section, see;



Detailed information regarding REF can be found on the REF website.