Dear Colleagues

It’s a new decade and a new government framework. Welcome to the Knowledge Exchange Framework, or KEF, which sits alongside the REF and TEF. And then there were three…

While it is tempting to roll your eyes and see it as another burden, I believe KEF will be revolutionary and help deliver the recognition for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange we need. At the very least, it provides a common language we can use; just like REF has done for research.

Research England published the final details of the first KEF exercise on January 16th after significant consultation and piloting last year. KEF remains an institutional-level, metric-based exercise using data from the existing Higher Education Business & Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey. Therefore, there is not much extra we need to do except submit three narrative statements in May to sit alongside the data for this first iteration of KEF. 

We expect results in the summer. The KEF will compare us against similar universities in our “cluster” (presently known as “Cluster E”) on seven key prospectives: Research Partnerships;  Working with Business; Working with the public and third sector; Skills, enterprise and entrepreneurship; Local growth and regeneration; IP and commercialisation; Public engagement. Initial internal modeling last year of our likely results in these seven perspectives was mixed, but we now have the final rules and we will be re-assessing our predicted performance in the coming months, although some people have already started.

Why bother? Well, Research England is committed to delivering an increase in the contribution higher education (HE) makes to the economy and society, and ensuring a return on the investment for the proposed increase in research and development funding to 2.4% GDP by 2027. KEF will be a useful source of information for business and government to understand and benchmark performance, and will likely be linked to the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). Moreover, KEF will drive internal discussions about what types of knowledge exchange we want to prioritise and how we support it. Such internal discussions are already underway and KEF targets will be part of our new University Vision and Strategy.  

Update on R:Transform

At the beginning of this academic year we saw a major change to the structure of the DSAA, as an outcome of the second phase of the R:T programme. I appreciate this change has meant that in some cases teams are not located where they previously were, or there is a change in the administrative staff members who work on particular areas of support for Schools and Departments.

As with all changes of this nature and scale, they need time to bed in, and appropriate adjustments made as we go forward.  But even so, I have heard concerns raised about the impact of this change on research and innovation administrative support and our postgraduate research students.

Steve Wiggins (Academic Registrar) and I are in regular communication on this and we’d like to jointly stress that all research and innovation tasks previously undertaken by school and departmental administrative staff are still appropriate and should still be directed through the new Student/Academic Services Hubs. To be clear, the level of support has not changed, just the mode of delivery (hubs), and together we encourage staff to engage with DSAA staff on a range of administrative duties. 

We also welcome hearing examples of where things are not working as we continue to monitor progress and update our procedures. If staff are unsure of anything, they should speak to the appropriate Hub Managers.  If they feel they are not getting the appropriate support they should raise this with the relevant Faculty Student and Academic Administration Manager (SAAM) who will proactively address this for you. If it’s appropriate to raise it higher then the Head of DSAA Faculties Administration, Jackie Seymour, is very interested to know, understand and resolve any issues, and there is of course Steve and myself should you prefer to raise anything directly with us.

Thank you for your patience and I hope this clarification helps.