Wednesday 31 March 2021

All staff email

Easter break and REF

Dear colleagues,

A short note before the Easter break. I know we have certainly breathed a collective sigh of relief this week, having completed our REF submission (the Research Excellence Framework), the huge exercise done every few years to assess the quality of research at UK higher education institutions.

Putting a REF submission together is an enormous amount of work under normal circumstances, but to manage the final year of work whilst contending with a global pandemic has added even more to the challenge.

I have recorded a video message to thank everyone who has been involved. Please do take some time to watch, whether you want to know more about what REF means to the University, or if you’re part of the submission and are joining me in celebrating the herculean efforts colleagues across the University have made.

Our REF submission represents years of pioneering and influential work by our research community and I am very proud of such outstanding research that makes a real difference to people’s lives. We know, however, that our research is defined by much more than REF. It is, at its heart, about public good - ideas, discoveries and applications for social purpose and general benefit. That’s a defining hallmark of York that we need to protect and cherish. As you may know, some of the Government’s recent decisions on funding have not been helpful, and we will continue to work through the Russell Group and directly to press the Government to ‘walk its talk’ on the UK being a science superpower.

In the meantime, I hope the lighter nights are offering more opportunities to enjoy Spring and I know many of you are looking forward to the long Easter weekend ahead. I hope that the gradual easing of restrictions this week enables us all to see friends, family and loved ones.

Finally, a reminder that where we can, we’re encouraging staff to reduce online meetings and wind down email and slack traffic tomorrow (Thursday 1 April), as well as Tuesday 6 April. To enable colleagues to take a complete break, we are recommending that as many of you as possible use annual leave either side of this weekend, to create an extended period to ‘switch off’, away from work. I appreciate not all staff can do this and for those unable to do so, I hope you can take a valuable break soon.

Take care and stay safe.

Best wishes,