Special Circumstances Request


Please note that the closing date for declaring personal circumstances is 28 February 2020, to allow the university time to submit reduction requests to the REF team in advance of their 6 March 2020 deadline. Please read the sections below before deciding if you would like to apply for a special circumstances reduction. If you decide to apply the form is at the bottom of this page.

Further reading

Detailed guidance and information around the applicable circumstances for REF 2021 and the reduction request process is available on the REF 2021 website and can be found in the REF 2021 Guidance on submissions (2019/01) document.

Background and context content

Background and context

Background and context

For REF 2021, the University of the Highlands and Islands is committed to submitting all those independent researchers it identifies through its internal processes as having significant responsibility for research. In terms of its REF submission, this will mean that in each of the units of assessment (UoA) it submits to, it will be required to provide a particular number of research outputs, in line with the requirements set out by the national REF team. For REF 2021, the national REF team has specified that the number of outputs required in any submitted UoA should be determined by multiplying the unit’s total FTE by 2.5.

However, the national REF team also recognises that there will be instances where some researcher’s particular circumstances have affected their ability to research productively during the REF assessment period. This may have led to an inability to contribute fully to ‘their’ unit’s total output requirement or indeed may have prevented them from producing the minimum of one eligible output, in line with the requirement of any submitted researcher.

The process called Declaration of Special Circumstances has been developed to address this possibility.

Equality and circumstances: the reduction request process content

Equality and circumstances: the reduction request process

Equality and circumstances: the reduction request process

As part of the UK funding bodies’ ongoing pledge to support and promote equality in research careers, the national REF team has put in place processes designed to recognise the effect of individual’s circumstances on their ability to produce research outputs. 

In autumn of 2019, therefore, the national REF team will invite UHI to submit, either, reduction requests for the number of research outputs at the level of the unit of assessment, or in exceptional circumstances, make requests to have the minimum of one requirement removed, at the level of the individual. 

Either form of reduction request will only be prompted by the voluntary declaration of circumstances by staff, and this will be managed internally through the UHI staff circumstances process. The benefits of the reduction request process are twofold. Firstly, it will allow the university to consciously consider and manage its expectations of staff with declared circumstances and secondly, it will allow us, the university, to make UoA submissions with a reduced number of outputs, without penalty.

The deadline for the university to submit reduction requests to the national REF team is 6 March 2020. Whilst the process of identifying the final cohort of REF eligible staff at UHI remains ongoing, it was felt that raising awareness of both the REF reduction request process and the UHI circumstances process, at this early stage, would be both informative and helpful for staff. 

Declaring your circumstances: next steps content

Declaring your circumstances: next steps

Declaring your circumstances: next steps

The UHI process for declaring personal circumstances in relation to REF 2021, and the declaration form itself, will be contained within the UHI Code of Practice.

In the first instance, staff wishing to declare their special circumstances are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the applicable circumstances for REF 2021, as laid out in Appendix G of the UHI Code of Practice, and also the UHI process for declaring special circumstances in REF 2021 (Paragraphs 88 – 93). Staff are then invited, if they feel it is appropriate, to submit the REF 2021 Individual Staff Circumstances Declaration form contained in Appendix G, (available as above) in line with the UHI declaration process.

The documents are available in the section below.

Documents you need to read before making a request content