Academic Research Staff Notices

REF 2021 and Staff Circumstances

As part of our preparations for REF 2021, we have put in place safe and supportive structures for staff to declare information about any equality-related circumstances that may have affected their ability to research productively during the REF assessment period. As part of these structures we are now inviting staff to highlight any equality-related individual circumstances they feel may have impacted on their ability to research productively by completing the attached Staff Circumstances Form. You can find further details of what constitutes an equality-related circumstance in our REF 2021 Code of Practice on our REF 2021 Blackboard pages.

The purpose of collecting this information is threefold:

a) To enable staff who have not been able to produce any REF-eligible outputs during the assessment period to be entered into REF where they have

  1. Equality-related circumstances that have resulted in an overall period of 46 months or more absence from research during the assessment period
  2. Equality-related circumstances equivalent to 46 months or more absence from research due to equality-related circumstances
  3. Two or more qualifying periods of family-related leave

b) To recognise the effect that equality-related circumstances can have on an individual’s ability to research productively, and to adjust expectations in terms of expected workload/production of research outputs and specifically as this relates to significant responsibility for research.

c) To establish whether there are any Units of Assessment where the proportion of declared circumstances is sufficiently high to warrant a request to the higher education funding bodies for a reduction in the required number of outputs to be submitted.

The completed form should be submitted by email to the confidential email address or sent to the Head of Organisational Development, Human Resources, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester WR2 6AJ by Monday 8 July.

The University recognises that staff circumstances may change between completion of the declaration form in June 2019 and the REF 2021 census date (31 July 2020). If this is the case, then staff are asked to contact the Head of Organisational Development and/or to email with updated information.

Completion and return of the form is voluntary, and individuals who do not choose to return it will not be put under any pressure to declare information if they do not wish to do so. This form is the only means by which the University will be gathering this information; we will not be consulting HR records, contract start dates, etc. Staff may therefore choose to complete and return the form if any of the above circumstances apply, provided that they are willing to provide the associated information. If, at any time, a member of staff feels they have been put under pressure to disclose their circumstances they should contact the HR Business Partner for their School.

The submitted forms will be considered by the REF Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Panel (REF EDIP). Please visit our REF 2021 Blackboard pages for details on membership of this group. It will consider all claims for individual circumstances and make recommendations to College REF Panels as to how these circumstances should be taken into account when judging significant responsibility for research. The REF EDIP will consider claims on an anonymous basis, i.e. members of this panel will not be provided with the names of individuals, their contact details, their school or UoA – these will only be known by the Head of Organisational Development in order to be able to communicate specific decisions to the College REF Panels. College REF Panels will only receive information about the decision and no information about circumstances.

What will happen next?

The Head of Organisational Development will communicate the decisions of the REF EDIP to staff with an explanation for the decision and what it will mean for that staff member in the context of REF 2021 in the week commencing Monday 29 July. Staff will be able to appeal this decision. Details of the appeals process will be communicated at the same time as the decisions.

If you have any questions about the process please contact me (

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