From education to employment

Research England launches Knowledge Exchange Framework consultation

Research England has published a document detailing proposals for how the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) could work, for consultation, and would like to hear the HE sector’s views on these proposals.

The consultation will be open until midday, Thursday 14 March 2019. English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can respond to it by completing a survey.

The proposals set out in the KEF consultation document aim to implement a Government policy priority for the KEF set out in the Industrial Strategy White Paper in 2017.

The KEF consultation document details the proposed design and implementation plan for the first iteration of the KEF for English HEIs. The consultation proposals build on three KEF documents published in November 2018: ‘Summary of KEF call for evidence responses’, ‘KEF Cluster Analysis Report’, and ‘KEF Technical Note’. The document includes a letter from the previous Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Sam Gyimah, to Research England Executive Chair, David Sweeney, requesting we proceed with the KEF as proposed in Research England’s advice to the minister.

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

‘We are pleased to be able to formally launch a consultation on our proposals for the KEF, which we have developed with input from Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield, and from the KE steering group led by Professor Trevor McMillan of Keele University. It is essential we get a broad range of views to ensure the KEF is a useful tool for universities and users, contributing to delivery of the Industrial Strategy, so would encourage HEIs to respond to our survey.’

Chair of the KEF Technical Advisory Group, Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield, said:

‘The UK’s universities, through their knowledge exchange activities, make huge contributions to their cities and regions, and to the UK’s economy and society more widely. I hope that the Knowledge Exchange Framework will highlight these contributions, and help universities develop this important aspect of their mission, as well as encouraging more organisations – including companies, public bodies and civil society organisations – to partner with universities for mutual benefit.’

Research England plans to run a pilot KEF with a representative cross-section of HEIs between February and April 2019. We are now calling for English HEIs eligible for Research England funding to register their interest in being involved in this pilot exercise for the remainder of the 2018-19 academic year.

Interested applicants should read the guidance before completing the form in the consultation document, and submit it to the Knowledge Exchange Policy Team by midday, Friday 25 January 2019. The pilot will further test and refine our proposals, and will be used to inform the development of the KEF.

A technical advisory group for the KEF, chaired by Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield, advised Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, on the development of an approach to KEF metrics.

The KE steering group chaired by Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Keele, provided comment on the use of the KEF from the perspective of university leadership.

Professor McMillan is also leading the development of the KE Concordat which complements the KEF metrics by focussing on the principles of good practice in KE performance.

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.

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. The KEF call for evidence was published in 2017 by Research England’s predecessor, the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

About Research England Shaping 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.

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