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The UK higher education funding bodies have recently published their initial decisions on REF 2028. Please see the Future Research Assessment Programme for further information.
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Background

1. Following analysis of the REF 2014 panel membership, the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP) recommended that in a future exercise more should be done to identify ways of more effectively mainstreaming equality and diversity considerations among all participants, at all stages of the appointment process. The four UK higher education (HE) funding bodies recognise that diversity of background, perspective, and experience contributes fundamental insight and value to the value of the work of REF panels, and therefore put in place a range of measures to increase the representativeness of panel membership for REF 2021. These measures included a requirement that all organisations wishing to submit nominations for REF panel membership would need to provide information about how equality and diversity issues were taken into account in putting forward nominations.

2. Nominating bodies were required to complete a template asking about their organisation and how equality and diversity was supported within this, as well as about how equality and diversity was taken into account in identifying and selecting nominees for REF panels. They were also provided with contextual data (see http://www.ref.ac.uk/about/nompan/ContextualData) to provide a broad indication of the current representation of HE academic staff across age, gender, ethnicity, and disability. The data highlighted where key challenges remain for improving diversity in the academic staff population.

3. Completed templates were assessed by EDAP in spring 2018. The aim of the current report is to provide reflections on the effectiveness of the new template process, highlight examples of good practice, and suggest what can be built on, or changed, for future rounds of panel membership recruitment.