Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)

The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) proposes a third pillar of university activity assessment alongside the REF and TEF. It was included as a Government policy in the Industrial Strategy White Paper in 2017. PraxisAuril has engaged proactively on behalf of its members throughout the consultation and implementation process of both the KEF metrics and the KE Concordat to date. 
KEF Timeline 
  • February 2022 - HESA announces re-start of the HE-BCI data review 
  • February 2022 - Review of the first iteration of the KEF metrics and narrative statements published by Research England
  • Late October 2021 - Evaluation of KEC action plans sent to individual institutions (see
  • Spring 2021 - Publication of the KEF metrics and narrative statements available on the KEF metrics dashboard

You can read PraxisAuril's contribution to the initial consultation on the use of metrics in the KEF consultation here. A summary of consultation responses and a technical report on the proposed KEF cluster approach was released by Research England in November 2018. This was followed by a second consultation on the metrics exercise in January 2019 and a pilot exercise involving 20 HEIs from across the clusters. 

For all KEF-related matters, please contact Tamsin Mann, Head of Policy & Governance.

Background to the KE Framework 
The KEF is an intitutional-level exercise to inform and assess knowldge exchange activities of UK Higher Education Institutions. It comprises two parts: a KEF Concordat, led by Professor Trevor McMillan (Keele), and KEF metrics exercise which was led by Professor Richard Jones (Sheffield). It emerges from a longer-standing knowledge exchange framework initiative, started by the (then) HEFCE in January 2016. A key output was the McMillan Review of Technology Transfer which concluded that UK universities were internationally competitive in their technology transfer practice but identified the need for stronger leadership in KE and improved evidence to understand ecosytem and industry sector factors in successful technology transfer.
The main metric for knowledge exchange is the annual HE-BCI data collection (see the HESA website). HEIF strategies, for English HEIS in receipt of funding, provide qualitative insight into university KE approaches: a summary review of strategies was commissioned by Research England (then HEFCE, archived web content). The NCUB has piloted an alternative approach with its Collaboration Progress Monitor, which draws on sources of publicly available data to observe trends across 15 metrics. Several reviews of the sector can be found in the Resources section of our website. 
Universities in the devolved nations are not included in the KEF metrics dashboards but still contribute annual data to the HE-BCI collection. A number of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish universities have taken part in the KEC development year on a voluntary basis. All of the devolved nations are represented on the KEC Strategy Group, which informs the initiative's purpose. 

Research England publishes KEF review

Research England has published a report detailing the findings of the review of the first iteration of the Knowledge Exchange Framework. The report brings together the wide variety of feedback that the funder has gathered through the KEF review over the past nine months and sets out proposals for future KEF developments in the short, medium and long term.

Updated timetable for KEF and HEIF

Research England has today released information on a revised timetable for the roll-out of the KEF metrics exercise and provided assurance to HEIs about the use of HEIF funding for the current academic year, at a time when universities are providing vital roles in the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter, addressed to Heads of English HEIs, sets out measures to lower burden in the short-term whilst providing reassurance and strategic direction for the 2020-21 academic year. 

KEF Narrative Templates Released

Research England has published a report with further detail on clustering and narrative templates for the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF). 

The reports sets out the revised KEF cluster descriptions and confirmation of cluster placements. The most significant change is the loss of the 'Social Sciences & Business' cluster. The four institutions in that cluster have been reassigned. 

Research England report details how the first version of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) will work

Research England has released a report detailing decisions and next steps for the KEF following last year’s consultation and pilot exercises. PraxisAuril is pleased to see that comments and contributions from universities, businesses and other sector stakeholders – including many PraxisAuril members – have been taken into account in the final metrics, narrative information, clusters, eligibility and timelines.

HEIF hits new heights as KEF roll-out is confirmed for 2020


PraxisAuril has always highlighted the importance of HEIF through its advocacy activities, including in many consultation responses to Government, emphasising its flexibility and power to leverage many other sources of external funding for a wide range of KE activities. It supports not only projects but KE professionals that work at the intersections of research and external audiences; raising awareness of KE as a set of activities that have the potential to engage many different audiences for economic and social benefits.


Knowledge Exchange Framework: Outcomes of Consultation and Pilot Exercise

In January 2019 Research England published a consultation on our proposals for the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF).  At the same time it invited English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to participate in a pilot exercise to test and refine the proposals. The findings contained in the report are being used to inform the ongoing development of the KEF.