Research Excellence Framework (REF) based metrics will be used as part of the assessment criteria to ensure that we support consistently high quality pathways. Units of Assessment (UoA) which do not meet the threshold set out below will not be eligible for inclusion in pathways. We define 'pathway' as the training a student will receive in a particular disciplinary or thematic area of social science during the course of their PhD.

All training pathways must be made up of UoA which have:

  • a greater than or equal to 50% REF output (3*+4*)
  • and greater than or equal to 50% REF environment (3*+4*)
  • and greater than or equal to 50% REF impact (3*+4*)
  • a research volume equivalent to a minimum of five FTE staff with output at 3* or 4* (calculated by number of FTE staff submitted to REF2014 'multiplied by' percentage of REF output at 3* or 4*).

The metric threshold applies at an individual training pathway level and while pathways can draw on multiple UoAs all must meet the threshold. New staff, staff not included in the REF submission and staff who were submitted to different UoAs may still contribute to the supervision and training of students, but the training must be in the area where the UoA has met the threshold. 

The threshold requirement for each UoA to have a minimum of 5 FTE staff with an output at 3*+4* applies at the institutional level and not consortia level. Therefore each RO's UoAs needs to have 5 FTE staff with an output at 3*/4* to be part of that pathway. This is so that we can ensure the training will be sustainable over the course of the accreditation and there will be the capacity to provide supervision for students at the ROs within which they are registered.

REF data can be downloaded for free from the REF website.