The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used to assess the quality of research in UK HEIs The University made its submission to REF2021 and the results will be published on 12 May 2022. The results of REF2021 will provide information about the quality of a university's research and are expected to inform research funding.

Results used in funding and reputation

Currently, the university receives funding based on REF results from the Scottish Funding Council worth over £75 million each year. The results are also a major contributor to the University’s reputation, appearing in league tables, and influencing our ability to secure research grants and recruit high performing staff and research students

Outputs, impact and environment assessed



The portfolio of information assessed is associated with research active academic staff, focussed on three elements: outputs (mostly publications), impact (benefit of research to society) and environment (the structures and strategy that support research).  Academic disciplines are grouped into Units of Assessments (UoAs), with HEIs deciding which Units of Assessment they submit to.

This information is assessed by expert panels of academics and research users, and the results of the assessment are presented as a ‘quality profile’ showing the percentage of research at five quality ratings: 4* (world-leading), 3* (internationally excellent), 2* (internationally recognised), 1* (nationally recognised) to unclassified.

REF2014 at Edinburgh

The University performed well in REF2014, improving to 4th place in power in the main league tables produced using REF results (Times Higher and Research Fortnight). We scored well across the three elements of the exercise – outputs, impact and environment, with 83% of our eligible staff submitted

The university submitted over 1850 staff, (over 1750 FTEs) to REF2014 across 31 Units of Assessment.

The College of Science and Engineering submitted in seven UoAs, corresponding to the seven schools. College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine staff were submitted to one of three UoAs, without a one-to-one relationship between Centres and UoAs. The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences submission was the largest in terms of staff numbers and number of UoAs, with submissions to 22 UoAs, and several schools made a submission to more than one UoA.


University of Edinburgh REF2021 Code of Practice

The Code of Practice covers the process for determining research independence for the purposes of REF 2021, and on the selection of outputs for the submission (including disclosure of staff circumstances).

University of Edinburgh REF2021 Sharepoint

The University's REF2021 intranet was used as  advice and support to help staff preparing the University's REF2021 submission. 

UoE REF2021 Sharepoint

You will need to login using your Staff Username and password to view the UoE REF2021 Sharepoint.


University of Edinburgh REF2021 Privacy Notice

The University's REF2021 privacy notice explains what personal information the University holds about you in relation to the REF 2021 exercise, detailing why we hold this information, what we do with it, how long we keep it for and if we share it with third parties.

This covers current University employees, former employees, users of research who have provided testimonials for REF2021 impact case studies, and individuals who are not employed by the University but whose contract or job role includes the undertaking of research primarily focused at the University during the REF assessment period.


REF2021 publications and consultation documents

The four Higher Education Funding Bodies established a REF team which is responsible for the conduct of REF2021 and the assessment of the submitted material. REF2021 publications and consultation documents are available from the REF2021 team's website. 

REF2021 home page