On 29 March, the University successfully submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. That submission, which comprises 26 Units of Assessment, is the result of an enormous amount of work by staff across the University over a period extending back to 2014. I would like to take this opportunity first and foremost to thank all those staff who were involved in the preparation of the submission. It was very much a team effort, shaped by a spirit of mutual support. In particular, I would like to thank our Research Excellence Team, the members of the University’s REF Steering Group, and our UOA REF Coordinators and their REF working groups.
Our submission to REF2021 reflects very significant progress in research and innovation at Kent over the past seven years. In REF2014, we submitted a total of 591 FTE; in 2021, this rose to 725 FTE. The submission was designed to be as inclusive as possible, and it very pleasing to be able to report that we submitted 100% of eligible staff. The submission also included three new UOAs: Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care; Education; and Geography and Environmental Studies. The submission included 1,688 outputs and 84 impact case studies.
Ensuring robust equality and diversity monitoring was also central to the University’s approach to the submission. All members of our REF working groups and committees were required to attend REF-specific EDI training as well as the University’s Unconscious Bias training. The process of identifying Individual Staff Circumstances was run by the dedicated REF ISC team in HR and the ISC Committee. A full Equality Impact Assessment will be submitted to the REF in June 2021.
The high quality of the research submitted by our staff was complemented by some outstanding research environment statements and impact case studies that demonstrated the very significant social, cultural and economic contribution that our research has made, both nationally and internationally. That impact has been achieved across a wide range of areas, including those that address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and our commitment to the Eastern ARC themes: health, social care and wellbeing; human rights, equality and conflict; sustainability, natural resources and food; and culture and creativity.
We will receive the results of our submission in spring 2022. In the meantime, the University will be seeking to ensure that we support research and innovation across the institution as strongly as possible, reflecting our commitment to Kent as a dual-intensity university with an outstanding research and innovation profile. Our Schools, Departments, and Divisions have exciting plans to develop their research and innovation activities, in which public engagement with research and the importance of Kent’s civic mission play a very significant role. Further news on these plans will be shared in the near future.
Professor Shane Weller | Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Innovation