Knowledge Exchange Framework pushed back several months amid Covid-19 outbreak
The Knowledge Exchange Framework has become the latest keystone of modern academic life to be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The original deadline for submission of KEF narrative statements of 29 May this year has now been pushed back to 16 October, along with a shake-up of knowledge exchange funding from Research England.
The delay follows the suspension of both the Teaching Excellence Framework and the Research Excellence Framework.
In a letter to vice-chancellors, seen by Research Professional News, Research England’s executive chair David Sweeney says that the new deadlines “may be subject to further revision as the situation may dictate”.
“We previously asked [higher education providers] to focus their narratives on activities that occurred during the preceding three years,” Sweeney wrote. “However, this extended narrative statement submission deadline will also allow providers to include the most recent activities, including responses to the coronavirus pandemic, where relevant to their narrative.”
Sweeney also confirmed that the final KEF metrics will not now be published in the summer as previously expected, and will instead come out in December.
The letter also confirms changes to how Higher Education Innovation Funding will operate.
Providers are currently required to spend HEIF only on knowledge-exchange activities, with the caveat that they can adapt their plans to respond to “emerging opportunities or challenges” as long as they are in keeping with institutional strategies.
“In view of the current situation, we are adding flexibilities for the immediate period,” Sweeney says in the letter. “Institutions may, without prior discussion with…Research England, use HEIF to support knowledge-exchange activities that respond better to the needs of, or opportunities for, their knowledge partners, even if this varies from their institutional strategy.”
Institutions should “keep appropriate records of exceptional uses of HEIF or variations from strategic objectives and report these via the usual HEIF Annual Monitoring Statement”, Sweeney writes.
“This will enable us to understand the pressures on—and responses of—[institutions] in this extraordinary period, and to account for public funds.”
The 2020-21 HEIF allocations will proceed as usual, with institutions to receive details “in due course”. However, institutions are no longer required to submit a five-year “accountability statement” in advance of receiving these funds.
“For the 2020-21 academic year, providers should prepare a statement outlining how they will be using HEIF to support knowledge-exchange activities, taking into account their previously approved strategies…and addressing the new notified priorities,” Sweeney writes.
This single question will be part of the review of the 2019-20 HEIF process, due on 26 February 2021, while for the next two academic years statements are due in May that year.
Institutions eligible to participate in the KEF, but which are not currently in receipt of HEIF funds, now have until 2 October to inform Research England if they wish to take part. The previous deadline was 27 March.
“These changes are being made in response to the significant disruption caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic,” writes Sweeney. “Our intention is to lower the burden on institutions, whilst providing longer-term direction and stability.”