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REF 2021 Staff Circumstances Panel Terms of Reference

Terms of reference and procedural rules for the REF 2021 Staff Circumstances Panel.



To collect and review information on staff circumstances, to assess whether there are circumstances that have constrained an individual’s ability to produce outputs or to work productively through the assessment period.


  • To enable individuals to disclose circumstances with confidence of the appropriate degree of confidentiality

  • To receive anonymised reports from the ‘REF2021 – special circumstances survey’ and agreeing the appropriate reduction of outputs

  • To receive recommendations from the Research Independence Panel regarding staff on ‘Research only’ contracts who meet the definition of research independence and can be classed as Early Career Researchers for REF purposes

  • To receive recommendations from the Research Independence Panel regarding ‘Research and Teaching’ contracts who achieved independence during the REF 2021 period and can therefore be classed as ‘Early Career Researchers’

  • To ensure that decisions are consistent, transparent and robust and taken by those with relevant knowledge, expertise and awareness of equality legislation

  • To consider, record and address the potential equal opportunity impacts of decisions made by the Panel (in accordance with the ‘due regard’ provisions of the Equality Act 2010)

  • To maintain strict confidentiality, at all times, regarding information about individual circumstances

  • To communicate all decisions to the relevant individuals who disclosed special circumstances

  • To communicate a summary of decisions made to the relevant UOA lead

  • To submit interim and final reports to the University Research Committee

  • To formally proposed, where appropriate, outputs reduction to URC

Reports to

An anonymised summary of this Panel’s recommendations will be reviewed by the University Research Committee (URC). The URC will request final sign off on decisions from the University Executive Board.

Formal minutes will be produced, but to maintain confidentiality these will not be publicly available.

Constitution and membership

Membership is appointed by the University Research Committee and the University Executive Board. It will include:

To ensure consistency the membership will be fixed until the REF2021 process is completed.

Quorum: The meeting will be quorate if the Secretary, Chair or deputy chair and three other members are present.



  • 11.11.19 4W3.25
  • 18.12.19 4W3.30
  • 22.1.20 WH3.36
  • 17.2.20 4W3.25


  • 21.9.20 4W3.25


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