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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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Applications are invited from people with successful senior-level experience in conducting, leading or commissioning research. We are looking for applicants who will command the confidence of key stakeholders, who have experience of peer review and research quality standards and of chairing and leading groups to achieve consensus – along with the additional qualities detailed in the further particulars.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies. It was first conducted in 2014, replacing the Research Assessment Exercise. The results of the REF drive the allocation of public funding for research. Following consultation earlier in the year, the funding bodies have now set out their initial decisions on many aspects of the next REF assessment, REF2021, in ‘Initial decisions on the Research Excellence Framework 2021’ (REF 2017/01).

The REF assessment structure consists of four main panels (Note 1) providing guidance and leadership, and 34 sub-panels which will undertake a peer review assessment process, informed by metrics where appropriate (Note 2).

The sub-panel chairs will play a key role in the exercise by leading their sub-panel’s assessment of submissions, including recommending panel membership, and ensuring the sub-panel’s contribution to the panel criteria and adherence to the criteria and assessment standards. All sub-panel chairs will also become members of the relevant main panel.

For further information on the sub-panel chair roles and how to apply, see Annex B of REF 2017/01.


  1. The chairs of the four main panels have been appointed. Further details about these appointments are available at,114700,en.html.
  2. There will be a sub-panel appointed for each unit of assessment (UOA). The UOA structure for REF 2021 is set out in Annex A of REF 2017/01.