Joint statement from BAFTSS and MeCCSA on REF2021 [Updated: response from HEFCE and Panel D Chair]


Recently BAFTSS and MeCCSA agreed the below joint statement in response to concern about the initial decisions by HECFCE regarding REF 2021 that included naming Film and Screen Studies explicitly in sub-panel 33 (Music, Dance, Drama, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies). This joint statement was sent to Kim Hackett at HEFCE and to Dinah Birch, Chair REF2021 Panel D. They have sent the following response that provides some helpful clarification. We will continue to ensure that these issues are understood and addressed by the relevant sub-panel Chairs and panel members:

We understand the concern raised about a potential effect on submissions caused by including ‘Film and Screen Studies’ in the name of UOA33. The funding bodies’ decision to include this field of research in a UOA name sought to respond to concerns raised about visibility, and the decision of where to locate it was informed by both responses to our consultation and further engagement with the relevant subject bodies. However, the decision to include it in a UOA name is not intended to preclude the submission of film and screen research in another UOA, where this is the most appropriate place for its submission. We will ensure that the published guidance provides clarity on this point, and encourages the submission of film and screen research into the most appropriate UOA. As with the previous panel criteria, this may include explicit reference to film and screen studies in the relevant UOA descriptors. We will work in particular with the sub-panels for UOAs 33 and 34, to ensure clarity is provided on submissions into each of these UOAs, and on the sub-panels’ working methods to ensure a consistent assessment approach.

Kim Hackett, HEFCE
Dinah Birch, Chair, Panel D


HEFCE recently announced their initial decisions on REF2021. This included naming Film and Screen Studies explicitly in sub-panel 33 (Music, Dance, Drama, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies). Whilst both subject associations are pleased to see Film and Screen Studies named for the first time (something each association called for in their submissions to the REF2021 consultation), it is possible that explicitly separating Film and Screen Studies from UoA34 (Media, Communication, Cultural Studies, Library and Information Management) will create confusion amongst both panels and submitting units. The position regarding audio-visual practice based research also requires greater clarity, since institutions return this to UoA32 (Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory), UoA33 and UoA34. We wish to avoid any harmful division of research across these fields.

Both associations recognise the difference in histories and traditions across our subject areas and agree it is vitally important that these should be addressed by both sub-panels 33 and 34 ensuring that they are subject to the same criteria of assessment. We fully expect that UoA34 will continue to welcome submissions from all parts of the field including Film and Screen Studies and that both UoA33 and UoA34 will be as inclusive as possible to reflect the rich diversity of the field. We want to ensure that Universities have the confidence to submit to whichever panel they feel best fits the range of research they do in a highly interdisciplinary field.

We will be writing to HEFCE about these concerns and request that both the sub-panel chairs and sub-panel members seek to address them.

Natalie Fenton (Chair, MeCCSA)
Andrew Moor (Chair, BAFTSS)


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