18 Dec 2014
The UK’s ultimate guide to the quality of university research, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), has identified world-leading research in all of Scotland’s universities which submitted. Scottish universities are leading the UK in many areas of research as diverse as Physics, Modern Languages and Agriculture.
For the 2014 REF, panels of experts scored the work of over 52,000 academics from 154 UK universities. Benchmarked across world standards, 22% of research outputs were judged to be of world-leading quality (4*), up from 14% in 2008. A further 50% were judged to be of internationally excellent (3*) quality, up from 37% in the 2008 study.
These findings confirm that Scotland’s universities are holding their own with those of the other nations of the UK. Both small and large institutions can be proud of the excellence of their research that has been revealed by the REF. The collaborative approach to research which Scotland has pioneered – research pooling – continues to show significant contributions to the quality of a wide range of disciplines across many universities.
In addition to highlighting the quality of the research itself, for the first time the REF also scored the extensive impact on society and the economy of the research in Scotland’s universities.
The four UK university funding councils, who are behind today’s figures, plan to illustrate the wider benefits of academic research in our universities by releasing the impact case studies. The public will be able to see how research is transforming everyday lives through breakthroughs in medicine, insights into the natural world and discoveries that lead to new products and new industries.
Laurence Howells, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said:
“Today we have had confirmation that our universities’ research is world-leading and impacts on almost every aspect of daily life, from the way we treat patients in hospital, to the way we communicate with smartphones.”
“By making the most of our investments in research, Scotland’s universities are rightly on the podium with the best in the world. It is particularly satisfying that Scotland’s pioneering approach to collaboration through research pooling has helped to bring this success in the REF.”