Equality impact assessment and the REF
Practical information on carrying out an equality impact assessment in relation to their Research Excellence Framework (REF) code of practice. These web pages are aimed at REF managers and equality and diversity staff and have been commissioned by the REF team
Equality impact assessments and the REF
The UK funding bodies require all higher education institutions (HEIs) to conduct an equality impact assessment (EIA) on their policy and procedures for selecting staff for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. The EIA should inform an institution's code of practice and be kept under review as submissions are prepared. The UK funding bodies have considered the equality impact of their policies and guidance through analyses of the Research Assessment Exercise 2008, the work of the Equality and Diversity Advisory Group and public consultations.
These web pages should be read alongside the REF Assessment framework and guidance on submissions.
ECU has chosen to use the term equality impact assessment but HEIs may choose to use other terms for example, equality analysis or inclusive policy making.
Areas covered by the EIA
An EIA on the selection of staff for the REF will need to explore the equality impacts of proposed policy and processes.
- Will the selection policy pose a barrier to eligible staff from a particular group? Table 2: Summary of equality legislation on pages 36-38 of the Assessment framework and guidance on submissions includes equality considerations in relation to the REF.
- How will the selection policy be communicated to all eligible staff, including those who are currently absent?
- If there are quality thresholds for selection, will there be a negative impact on certain groups who may be eligible to submit reduced outputs?
Information to be considered
When conducting an EIA, an institution can consider a range of information that may indicate the likely impact on its ability to show due regard to the equality duty of the Equality Act 2010 and Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998:
- Analyses of the institution's submission to the RAE 2008 and the findings from any evaluation that followed
- Analyses of HESA staff data on staff who are eligible to submit to the REF and staff who are selected during any mock exercises that are conducted
- Learning points from any mock exercises that are conducted, including feedback from staff from protected groups
- Any other engagement with staff from protected groups that may inform an HEI's selection policy and procedures or the institution's code of practice more generally.
Number of EIAs
Institutions may wish to conduct more than one EIA, for example on each policy or procedure that relates to the selection of staff for the REF. However, there is no need for institutions to repeat EIAs, as they can be reviewed at key points of the REF process:
- When identifying staff who are likely to be selected. Are they representative of the staff within the institution who are eligible to submit? If not, institutions need to consider if there are equality related reasons for staff not being selected.
- When considering appeals. Have any appeals highlighted issues that have a negative impact on a particular protected group and if so, do policy and procedures for selecting staff need to be revised?
- When preparing the final submission. Have all equality related issues that have arisen during any mock exercises been taken into consideration? Where institutions have not undertaken mock exercises, an analysis of eligible staff who are selected will need to be undertaken to ensure there are no equality related barriers to selection.