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1. In the REF 2021 publication ‘Guidance on codes of practice’ (REF 2019/03), the UK funding bodies committed to putting in place measures to enable individuals to make a formal complaint where it is believed that the agreed processes set out within an HEI REF 2021 Code of Practice (“COP”) are not being followed by an HEI. 

2. The COPs will aid institutions in their responsibilities in respect of promoting equality and diversity, complying with legislation and avoiding discrimination when preparing submissions to REF 2021. The purpose of the Complaints and Investigations (“C&I”) process is to provide assurance to the UK funding bodies that COPs are applied as set out by institutions participating in REF 2021. This assurance helps meet the obligations of the UK funding bodies concerning equality, diversity and inclusion. 

3. Each institution submitting to REF 2021 is required to develop, document and apply a COP on the fair and transparent processes for: 

a. identifying staff with significant responsibility for research (where an HEI is not submitting 100 per cent of Category A eligible staff);  

b. determining who is an independent researcher; and  

c. the selection of outputs, including approaches to supporting staff with circumstances. 

4. In the REF 2021 ‘Guidance on codes of practice’ the UK funding bodies committed to putting in place measures to enable individuals to make a formal complaint where it is believed that the agreed processes set out within a COP are not being followed by an HEI. 

5. The purpose of the complaints and investigations process is to provide assurance to the UK funding bodies that COPs are being applied as set out by institutions participating in REF 2021 and provide assurance to the UK funding bodies of the accuracy of submissions to REF 2021. This assurance helps meet the UK funding bodies’ obligations concerning equality, diversity and inclusion. 

6. The C&I process will open 1 April 2021 and will close  June 2022. 

Privacy notice

All personal data provided to UK Funding Bodies in connection to complaints or investigations related to the application of REF Codes of Practice for the fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research will be processed in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and the UK General Data Protection Regulations  (GDPR) where appropriate. The lawful basis for processing personal data is Public Task, data will be processed in order to inform decisions on complaints and investigations into the application of HEIs’ Codes of Practice on the transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research.

Data will be shared with a panel comprising representatives of the four UK funding bodies who will reach a decision on the complaint. Wherever possible the funding bodies will not share information that would identify individuals, unless it is necessary to the consideration of the complaint or part of an investigation. It may be necessary to share data with the HEI which is subject of the complaint. Data will be retained until the complaints process has been resolved.

Further information on how we use personal data can be found in (Privacy notice - REF 2021) and the UK Research and Innovation Privacy Notice (Privacy notice – UKRI)