"The REF" is the Research Assessment Framework - it determines the quality and ranking of research in all the UK's universities, conservatoires and art schools.
The results of the 2014 REF came out at 00.01 this morning, Thursday 18th December. Since the last rating and ranking exercise was in 2008, it's a very big deal indeed. If you hear people talking about it, you'll understand why they're so animated.
What it means to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - click HERE.
Institutions are assessed on output, impact, and overall. "GPA" means Grade Point Average. Here is the link to the REF website:-
And you can also consult Times Higher Education's Table of Excellence, HERE:-