The well-established Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the principle mechanism employed by the funding bodies to distribute so-called "QR" funds that underpin the research base across the wide breadth of academic disciplines within UK higher education. The REF outcome serves to provide accountability and benchmarking information reflective of that resource allocation, and to shape future funding strategies.

The REF is peer-review exercise, carried out every six or so years, in which the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions)  and their impact beyond academia is assessed by expert panels within subject-based Units of Assessment (UoAs), within the context of the environment that supports that research.

A newer assessment process – the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) - is designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness in how universities use public funding for "knowledge exchange". The KEF is an annual, metrics-driven exercise, that seeks to review each university's engagement with seven perspectives, expressed within the context of a cluster of similar institutions. These focus on research partnerships, levels of working with business, public and third sector partners, impact on local growth and regeneration, and community engagement.

Knowledge Exchange is also being progressed within a set of guiding principles of the Knowledge Exchange Concordat (KEC). These eight principles, and the associated enablers, facilitate a supportive framework to promote effective knowledge exchange. The concordat provides a self-reflection mechanism by which universities can review their performance across a diverse spectrum of knowledge exchange within a context of their specific priorities and expertise.

The Knowledge Exchange Network is available on Yammer