Research & Innovation

Our Policy Position


Quality researchers and excellent research should be recognised and funded, wherever they are found. Through our dedicated sub-association for research, GuildHE seeks to highlight the types of research, disciplines, and methodologies in which our members specialise and demonstrate excellence.

We help our members to embed a positive research culture, adhere to good research practices, develop robust research and innovation strategies, and establish appropriate infrastructure through which they can drive forward their ambitions.

GuildHE is a supporter of initiatives to further excellence in research and integrity in research practice, including the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers; the Concordat to Support Research Integrity; and the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research. Through our research consortium, GuildHE helps to facilitate implementation and the sharing of best practice with respect to such sector-wide research policy initiatives.

We provide a much needed voice for all institutions who are developing their research environments, and which alone may not have the critical mass or capacity to influence policy, or to benefit from competitive research funding and support schemes that tend to suit more research-intensive operations.

In our policy work we focus on issues most pertinent to institutions with a specialist focus  and a growing research environment, including:

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Smaller and specialist institutions performed well in REF 2014. The inclusion of impact suited their closer-to-market position and tendency towards applied research in specialist domains. For the REF 2021 exercise, the burden on smaller institutions and smaller units of assessment is considerable. There remain some unhelpful differences in modes of assessment between panels which are STEM-led and those which are humanities and arts based. We strongly argue for parity in assessment of all disciplines and all types of research output, and acknowledgement of the pressures that exist for different scales of submissions.

Balance of Research Funding

Developing and emerging research environments are typically supported through institutional investment via Quality-Related (QR) research funding allocations. Such institutions are infrequent recipients of funds from the other half of the dual-support system, the Research Councils. We would like to see greater and more innovative investment in QR as the more equitable part of the funding system. Smaller institutions could be better supported to invest in infrastructure and resources, including postgraduate training.

Existing models of funding, especially for capital projects, international collaborations, and postgraduate training through Centres for Doctoral Training, require a level of matched investment that small institutions can rarely provide and are of a scale that is not appropriate for them. We therefore advocate for a better ecology of funding models, sizes and types to engage and leverage the potential of the full diversity of research active institutions in the UK.

Links to our work


Our Research Consortium

Consultation Responses


Research blogs

Who to contact

Rachel Persad
Policy Manager