Research England publishes first KEF documents ahead of consultation

Research England publishes first KEF documents ahead of consultation

19 November 2018

Research England has today published three documents that will help higher education institutions (HEIs) prepare for the upcoming consultation on the future Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF).

The first report, Summary of KEF call for evidence responses, summarises the key points that have emerged from evidence submitted to Research England on suitable approaches to – and data to use in – the KEF. This call for evidence, issued in December 2017, sought suggestions on how to make sure the KEF compares HEIs in a fair and meaningful way, what data could be used to inform the KEF, and how KEF metrics should be visualised in an accessible and useful way.

The second report, KEF Cluster Analysis Report, includes an initial cluster analysis of English HEIs that will inform the development of KEF metrics. Research England will further develop this analysis, including manually assigning some universities to different clusters ahead of the consultation, particularly where a cluster contains a small number of HEIs.

Finally, a technical note, KEF Technical Note, describes the role of other sources of UK Research and Innovation data in the development of the KEF.

Research England’s Director of Knowledge Exchange, Alice Frost, said:

‘There has been a great deal of work going on behind the scenes at Research England and in collaboration with our stakeholders, including groups chaired by Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield and Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, Professor Trevor McMillan, to develop the KEF since the call for evidence in December 2017.

It’s essential we get a broad range of views to ensure the KEF is a useful tool for universities and users. We hope this information will give an indication of the direction of travel and help HEIs prepare for the consultation.’

The consultation on the KEF will open towards the end of 2018 and close in early 2019.

At the same time as the consultation launch, Research England will publish David Sweeney’s advice to the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation on the development of the KEF, together with the minister’s response. A technical advisory group for the KEF, chaired by Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield, advised David Sweeney on the development of the KEF metrics approach.

Research England is working with various other organisations to develop the KEF, including the Office for Students, universities, learned societies, PraxisAuril, the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), the devolved funding councils and executive bodies, and other UKRI councils.


  1. The aim of the KEF is to give comparable, bench-marked, and publicly-available performance information about higher education institutions’ (HEIs) knowledge exchange activities. It aims to allow universities to better understand and improve their own performance, as well as provide   businesses and other users more information to help them access the world-class knowledge and expertise embedded in English universities. 
  2. Research England shapes healthy, dynamic research and knowledge exchange in English universities. We are responsible for funding, engaging with and understanding these institutions, and working with devolved funding bodies and the Office for Students to understand their strategies, capabilities and capacity. We support and challenge universities to create new knowledge, strengthen the economy, and enrich society. We distribute over £2.2bn to universities in England every year in the form of quality-related research (QR) funding, and via the Higher Education Innovation Fund. We are responsible for administering the Research Excellence Framework, used to inform QR funding, and for delivering the forthcoming Knowledge Exchange Framework. We also support specific activities with dedicated project funding, including the £900m UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, and the £100m Connecting Capability Fund. The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 established Research England as a Council of UK Research and Innovation alongside the seven Research Councils and Innovate UK. Research England website@ResEngland
  3. The call for evidence was published in 2017 by Research England’s predecessor, the Higher Education Funding Council for England.