Academic Support FAQs

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A selection of frequently asked questions for academics, focusing around research and bid activity, knowledge exchange and external engagement.

Research, Funding & Bid Support

The Bid Support Unit can help with all aspects of research funding. Whether you want to apply for funding, have a great idea for a research project but are unsure how to find funding, or you need to know how much to apply for. We can help with identification of funding opportunities and provide guidance for bid development, feedback and proposals.

Contact our Bid Support team by filling in a short form


To see what your Research Application Journey could look like, please click here.

We have identified a visual diagram of your research application journey, which includes four keys steps (Preparation, Costing, Approvals and Application), and what each of these involves. 

To view the diagram, please click here.

We hold open calls for our Research England Policy Support Fund and Participatory Research Funding, which are advertised on these pages when open.

You could also ask your Research Institute Director as some Institutes offer seedcorn funding.

Take a look at the University of Bedfordshire Open Access Policy.

This policy:

  • Celebrates the university’s commitment to the principle of Open Access and the promotion of the derivatives of institutional research through Open Access publication 
  • Takes into consideration the challenges of REF2021 and aims to ensure maximum compliance with future REF exercises 
  • Summarises the changes brought by the new UKRI Open Access policy which comes into effect from 01/04/2022.
  • Defines clearly who it applies to and their responsibilities 
  • Includes a guide to compliance 
  • Contains useful links, tools and information about Open Access and compliance with funder policies 

For further information, please click here.

Alternatively, if you have any more questions about Open access, please email

he Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the excellence of research in UK higher education providers (HEPs) and is carried out approximately every 6-7 years. 

The REF outcomes are used to inform the allocation of around £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research.

The REF was first carried out in 2014, replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise. The REF is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE).

It is managed by the REF team, based at Research England, and a steering group from the four funding bodies.

The funding bodies’ shared policy aim for research assessment is to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education.

REF objectives:
  • Provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment
  • Provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use in the higher education sector and for public information
  • Inform the selective allocation of funding for research.

Find out more on the REF website.


To view our University's latest REF results (2021), please click here.

The four UK higher education funding bodies use the REF to inform the allocation of around £2 billion of research funding per year. The thoroughness of the exercise is designed to provide accountability for public investment in research, demonstrating its benefits and impact.

REF is also used by HE institutions for:

  • Benchmarking and establishing reputational yardsticks with peer institutions and departments
  • Understanding institutional strengths for external communications
  • Informing strategic university decisions
  • Understanding larger sector-wide trends
  • Attracting researchers and postgraduate students
  • Learning more about a university or department you might want to work with
  • Securing further funding

Lessons learned from the current exercise will inform the Future Research Assessment Programme (FRAP), which is exploring possible future approaches to the assessment of UK higher education research performance, including through dialogue with the HE sector.

Knowledge Exchange & Public Engagement

OFS Definition:

Knowledge Exchange (KE) is a process that brings together academic staff, users of research and wider groups and communities to exchange ideas, evidence and expertise.


KE encourages the sharing of ideas, data, experience and expertise, which is mutually beneficial to all parties involved. For more information about Knowledge Exchange, please click here.

Key Takeaways
  • Sharing knowledge, experience, ideas, evidence or expertise with non-academic communities
  • In ways intended to be mutually beneficial
  • Goes beyond just telling people things – how do you know they are listening?
  • Can happen at any time in the research & innovation process
  • Is not restricted to the UK
Key Activities include
  • Partnerships between universities and major manufacturers
  • Industry-related curriculum development - e.g. Advisory Boards
  • Work placements for students
  • Graduate start-ups supported by incubator spaces at providers.

Additional examples can be found within the next question.


Our KE activity is reported via our annual Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF). Please see below for further information on KEF.

Below we have identified different types of interactions that fall under four Knowledge Exchange categories - People-based, Problem-solving, Commercialisation and Community-based.

The KE activities identified in bold, below, are reported as part of our institutional audits. 


People-based Problem-solving Commercialisation Community-based
  • Attending or Organising Conferences

  • Participating in Networks

  • Giving Invited Lectures

  • Sitting on Advisory Boards

  • Student Projects / Placements

  • Post Course Placements
  • Employee Training

  • Standard Setting Forums

  • Curriculum Development

  • Enterprise Education

  • CPD / Courses
  • Joint Publications

  • Joint Research

  • Informal Advice

  • Consultancy Services - particularly with SMEs

  • Research Consortia

  • Hosting of Personnel

  • Contract Research

  • Setting up Physical Facilities

  • External Secondments

  • Prototyping and Testing

  • Licensed Research

  • Patenting

  • Spin-out Companies

  • Formed / Run Consultancy

  • Public Lectures for the Community
  • School Projects

  • Museums and Art Galleries

  • Performing Arts and Related

  • Public Exhibitions

  • Social Enterprises

  • Heritage and Tourism

  • Community-based Sports

This is an annual audit, carried out by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI). 

The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) comes from a collection of data gathered from providers of higher education, such as our University. The data informs a series of metrics that look at the performance of English Higher Education Providers (HEPs) from a variety of different perspectives including: public and community engagement. For further information about KEF, please visit the UKRI website.

KEF Committee has been set up to support the university in our KEF submissions, including the Public & Community Engagement (P&CE) narratives.

To view our institution's KEF audit overview, please click here. You may need to search by institution name.

The term ‘knowledge exchange’ (KE) is shorthand for the multiple interactions between HEIs and businesses, public services, charities and communities to create societal and economic benefit. KE Career pathways are well-known throughout Higher Education and your ability to demonstrate impact in this area is proven to generate career opportunities and to improve promotion prospects.

For more information, including how to join this pathway, please click here.

It is an effective engagement activities should maximise the non-academic impact of your work.

Done well, they can also enhance its academic impact by broadening your research horizons, opening up fresh perspectives and providing access to new research participants or data. 

Key Takeaways
  • A sub-set of knowledge exchange, i.e. still a two-way process intended to be mutually beneficial
  • Not communication to an undifferentiated group of people, there is no ‘general’ public. You still need to know who you want to engage with your work, and why
  • Can be achieved in many ways, not just via talks or lectures
Public Engagement examples
  • Volunteering at a food shelter
  • Sitting on a national policy board
  • Working with a local community group
  • Helping to build a community playground
  • Joining a city or county clean-up effort
  • Exhibitions on or off university premises
  • Media appearances
  • Sporting events

Tell us about your public engagement activity by filling in a quick form

To view our institution's KEF narratives, submitted as part of the KEF audit in march 2023, please click here.

We appreciate that some public engagement activity takes place outside of your working hours at the university. However, as you are sharing your expertise, we can still include it in out institution's Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) audit. 

Additionally, the personal benefits to your are:

  • Create a long-lasting record of activity that we will hold for you to feed into your PDR
  • Supports (eg) FHEA applications
  • Supports your professional development
  • Recognition of your achievement - Opportunity to be celebrated within a PR, case study or internal campus displays

Tell us about your public engagement activity by filling in a quick form

To view our institution's KEF narratives, submitted as part of the KEF audit in march 2023, please click here.

Knowledge Exchange may be sharing information with professionals in another field, or vice versa, whilst public engagement would be sharing information with non-specialists, such as the public and local communities.
Both types of activities are being reported as part of our Knowledge Exchange Framework submission - one of three audits that the University has to undertake. The other two are Research Excellence Framework (REF) and Teacher Excellence Framework (TEF). 

Knowledge Exchange

Research and external engagement activity are the examples of knowledge exchange at our University.

If you are sharing your skills and expertise with organisations outside of Higher Education, we want to know about it - as we report it as part of our Knowledge Exchange Framework audit. 

This activity is normally recorded with the help of the Research & Innovation team, who can also support with a number of key processes involved. Please contact us for more information or if you have a knowledge exchange activity in mind, by filling in a quick form


To view our institution's KEF audit overview, please click here. You may need to search by institution name.

Public Engagement

We want to understand and capture the impact of the public, civic and community engagements University of Bedfordshire staff are involved in.

This isn't just about our published research: it’s about all forms of our public engagement, be it volunteering at a food shelter; sitting on a national policy board; or working with a local community group. It matters to you so it matters to us.

Tell us about your public engagement activity by filling in a quick form


To view our institution's KEF narratives, submitted as part of the KEF audit in march 2023, please click here.

External Engagement

External Engagement at universities refers to interactions with organisations outside the academia in the private, public, or third (charitable and voluntary) sectors.

It can cover a wide range of predominantly externally directed activities and, in particular, knowledge exchange activities directed at collaboration with agencies and stakeholders outside of academia, including businesses and the public, to realise the impact/benefits of research upon:

  • Public discussion
  • Media discussion
  • Cultural life
  • Quality of life
  • Communities
  • Equality and social justice
  • Justice
  • Education
  • Public policy
  • Commercial and social enterprise activity
  • Infrastructure
  • Technology and materials
  • Healthcare
  • Professional practice
  • The natural environment


To see what your external engagement engagement journey can look like, please click here.

Whether you need an industry specific case study for your students or you would like to get involved in a multi-million pound collaboration, we can help you with any of the elements you need.

Please speak to your Head of School or Employability Lead and then get in contact with a member of our Business Partnerships team.

What can you expect?

To see what your external engagement journey could look like, please click here.

Businesses contact us looking for help or have connected with us through one of the various events we host or attend. If we have communication with a business that could use academic support, we will contact your Head of School and ask for a relevant academic to work with.

If you have business links in the area you are teaching in and would like to develop that via research or academic consultancy, you can reach out to the Business Partnerships team to discuss how you can take this forward.

No. We work with your Head of School who will ensure that your workload capacity allows for you to do the work as part of your contracted hours of working. 

An academic will not be paid directly for projects they have worked on, on behalf of the University. However, some projects allow for payment for an academic's time to be made to their department.

Our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a database of several thousand businesses from start-ups, sole traders to scale-ups and multinationals. Alternatively, should you already have a business in mind, we would be happy to facilitate the collaboration.

Please get in contact with a member of our Business Partnerships team to discuss further.

Often, we can put together a package to charge the client a fee - a large portion of which can be credited to your school. Please get in contact with a member of our Business Partnerships team to discuss further.