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Policy Insight

Policy Insight - Knowledge Exchange Framework or "KEF"

Last month saw a major announcement from Government that is likely to impact upon all EEUK members working to support entrepreneurial outcomes in UK Universities – the “KEF”.

The new “Knowledge Exchange Framework” will join REF (Research Excellence Framework) and the more recent, TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) as the new HE metric, designed to compare how effectively universities engage with industry.

By benchmarking institutional performance KEF has been heralded by Jo Johnson MP as the way to help institutions “step up a gear” and emulate US Universities in terms of intellectual property income per research resource and the number of successful spin-off companies.

There is now obviously concern across the sector as to what this new metric will mean in practice, especially as there are suggestions that KEF will ultimately be linked to £40m HEIF income (Higher Education Innovation Funding) – something that many EEUK members are dependent upon to underpin their incubation and start-up activities.

However, KEF is also welcomed as providing the ‘focused spotlight’ on enterprise activities that is needed to secure consistent support from senior management. As assurances have been made that it will be not place additional administrative burden on universities (as it is likely to build upon the Higher Education Business and Community Interactive Survey data) this could serve as a key driver in improving the focus and status of enterprise/entrepreneurship within our universities.

What does this mean for EEUK members?

Focused senior management attention should lead to longer term planning and commitment for EEUK members, but it is also possible that the need to count hard outcomes could overshadow the wider enterprise activity and institutional culture change that delivers these outputs, or in the long term we might see institutions choosing to prioritise metrics as either TEF, REF or KEF.

Practical Policy: Hints, tips and how you can get involved

The approach to KEF is currently being developed and will be consulted on by Research England. So get involved:

  • Contact Us: What do you think? What questions and concerns do you have regarding KEF? 
    We are inviting your comments and debate direct to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to help prepare for future consultation
  • Get Involved: Work with your HEBCIS (Business and Community Interaction survey) team to understand what is currently being tracked and reported. By understanding the current landscape, you can identify the wider elements of your work have driven and supported these outputs.
  • Engage with the consultation

Once the consultation is launched, we will be getting in touch with members – but you may have other routes to getting your voice heard through your own institutions, so get involved!

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This Policy Insight is brought to you by our Head of Policy, Alison Price. If you have any comments on policy related to enterprise and entrepreneurship education please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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