REF 2014: Scotland and Wales claim success

Devolved countries claim proportion of 3* and 4* submissions above average

December 18, 2014

Higher education leaders in the devolved nations have hailed the research excellence framework results as proof that their universities punch above their weight

Universities Scotland highlighted that 77 per cent of Scottish research submitted to the REF had been judged to be world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*), slightly ahead of the overall UK figure of 76.1 per cent.

This was an improvement on Scotland’s performance in the 2008 research assessment exercise, when 52 per cent of submissions were rated 4* or 3*, below the UK figure of 54 per cent.

Universities Scotland also highlighted that its members outperformed the UK average on research impact, a new measure for the REF. Some 85.8 per cent of Scottish research was judged to have outstanding or very considerable impact, compared with 83.9 per cent across the UK as a whole.

Pete Downes, the organisation’s convenor, said Scotland’s universities had performed “outstandingly well”.

“Every one of Scotland’s higher education institutions undertakes research of world-leading quality with more than three-quarters of all of the research submitted by Scottish institutions judged to be world-leading and internationally excellent,” said Professor Downes, the principal of the University of Dundee.

“I am also delighted to see such a strong performance across the full breadth of subjects with Scotland demonstrating world-leading research in every unit of assessment. This is testament to Scotland’s highly diverse higher education sector.”

Universities Wales also said 77 per cent of its members’ submissions had been rated world-leading or internationally excellent compared with 49 per cent for the 2008 RAE.

It claimed its members had the highest proportion of research with impact rated as being world-leading, at 49 per cent. Another 37 per cent of submissions were judged to be 3* for impact.

Colin Riordan, the association’s chair, said he was “naturally delighted” with the results.

“Much of the focus for Welsh universities since the last expert review has been on the quality of its research outputs, and the significant improvements that have been made in terms of this are testament to the hard work undertaken over the past few years,” said Professor Riordan, the vice-chancellor of Cardiff University.

“The significant effect that Welsh universities are having on wider society is clearly shown by these results, in areas ranging from saving lives with medical advances for the NHS to driving economic growth through innovative cutting-edge technology.”

Cardiff itself saw its position in the Times Higher Education overall REF league table, based on grade point average, rise 16 places from the 2008 RAE to 6th.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, 74 per cent of submissions by Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University were rated 4* or 3*.

Stephen Farry, the Stormont executive’s employment and learning minister, welcomed the results.

“Our local universities are to be congratulated for the quality and strength of the research they have undertaken,” said Dr Farry. “These results confirm that our universities are undertaking internationally recognised research.”

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