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1. This letter invites higher education institutions (HEIs) to complete the REF 2021 survey of submission intentions, provides guidance on what information they will be expected to supply, and requests the nomination of REF authorised submitters. The survey will open at noon on 30 September 2019 and close at noon on 6 December 2019.  

Survey of submission intentions

2. All HEIs intending to participate in REF 2021 should complete this survey to provide details about their intended submissions. The survey will gather data on the anticipated volume and content of submissions. The information provided will not be binding, but HEIs are encouraged to be as accurate as possible.

3. The aim of the survey is to enable the REF team and the REF panels to plan and prepare for the assessment phase of the exercise. The panels will use the information to assess the anticipated range and volume of material to be submitted, and to identify the expertise required for the assessment. We expect to appoint further sub-panel members and assessors to all sub-panels, based on the identified expertise requirements. By providing accurate survey information institutions can help ensure their submissions are assessed by panellists with appropriate expertise. 

4. We will also use the information to help identify where specialist advisers will be required to assess outputs in languages other than English, and to inform planning for the exercise, such as the logistics involved in cross-referring material between sub-panels.

5. The information required in the survey is set out in Annex A. Where the sub-panels have provided a list of research specialisms, these are included in Annex B.

6. All HEIs intending to submit to the REF must complete the survey by noon on 6 December 2019. Information on how to complete the survey will be sent to your institution’s designated REF contact in September.

Authorised submitters

7. Responses to the survey of submission intentions, as well as each institution’s submission to REF 2021, must be made electronically through the online REF submission system.

8. The submission system is currently in development, and those parts that have been completed are now available for HEIs to trial. We will launch a full pilot of the submission system in autumn 2019 to capture any refinements needed before the final version is made available in January 2020. Alongside this pilot, HEIs will be able to access the survey of submission intentions.

9. As head of institution, you must nominate two authorised submitters, who will be able to submit your institution's response to the survey in December 2019 and, in November 2020, make your institution’s submission to REF 2021. These individuals (one of whom may be you) should be authorised to undertake both of these actions on your behalf, and to confirm the accuracy of the data contained in both the survey and the REF 2021 submission in turn. They should also be authorised to confirm that in preparing the institution’s REF 2021 submission, it has applied the code of practice on that has been approved by the funding body.

10. To nominate two authorised submitters, please complete, sign and return the form at Annex C by 17 October 2019. Forms can either be returned by post to the address above or completed with an electronic signature (or scanned) and emailed to info@ref.ac.uk.  [Please note, Annex C is not available to download. This form was sent to Heads of Institutions via email on 30 July 2019].