REF 2021

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. It was first carried out in 2014, replacing the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

The REF outcomes are used to calculate funding for universities' research. Results are also used to inform strategic decisions about national research priorities. Results from the REF are important for:

Further details on the REF can be found on the official REF 2021 website. If you have any queries regarding the REF 2021 process at the University of St Andrews, please contact

REF 2021 dates

  • Publication period: 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020
  • Assessment period for impact: 1 August 2013 to 31 July 2020
  • Census date for staff in post: 31 July 2020
  • Submission date: 27 November 2020
  • Assessment by panels: 2021
  • Publication of outcomes: December 2021


The REF assessment will be carried out by expert sub-panels for each of the 34 units of assessment. These sub-panels will be working under the leadership and guidance of four main panels.

The sub-panels will assess the submitted work, with the overall quality profiles comprising three sub-profile areas:

  • Research outputs: 60%
  • Impact: 25%
  • Environment: 15%

The overall quality profile as well as each sub-profile will be based on a 5-point scale (1* to 4* and Unclassified).

Previous REF and RAE results

You can find details on the University of St Andrews results from previous REF and RAE awards on the research excellence pages.