REF2021 results at Nottingham


May 12th, 2022

The University of Nottingham is again among the best universities in the UK for the strength of its research, as measured by the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF2021).

According to analysis by Times Higher Education (THE), the university has improved its placing in each of the three key measures determined by REF – Research Power, Research Intensity and Grade Point Average (GPA).

Of the 157 institutions participating in REF2021, the university is placed seventh in the UK for Research Power, which takes into account a combination of the quality of our research, its international impact, critical mass and sustainability. It is placed 25th in the UK for GPA – an improvement from 26th place in REF2014.

Our own analysis using THE methodology places the university 24th in the UK for Research Intensity adjusted GPA, which takes into account the proportion of eligible staff returned – an improvement from 28th place in REF2014.

The number of research outputs assessed by REF2021 as 4* “quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour” has increased by 50% – against a target of 40% in the university’s 2017 research strategy.

The university’s GPA has improved to 3.34 in REF2021 from 3.09 in REF2014, against a national average of 3.23 in REF2021 and 3.01 in REF2014.

You can see more on our Research Excellence Framework webpage and an extensive range of case studies from our submissions.

Full details of the university’s REF2021 assessment, alongside that for other institutions are on the REF2021 website.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West welcomed the results, saying:

“Nottingham has often been recognised for the breadth of its research: to achieve quality across the range of disciplines submitted is a reflection of the talent, imagination and dedication of colleagues across the institution. However, I am especially proud of the positive impact that our research has had on people in the UK and throughout the world, which is testament to the determination of our researchers to make a difference to people’s lives.

“It is pleasing to see this improvement in our results, and of course such assessments are by no means the sole way in which we should value excellence in research. We must continue with our commitment to support research of the very highest quality, but REF2021 demonstrates that this work will build from a strong foundation.

“I would like to thank every colleague for their hard work, often delivered over many years, that has contributed so powerfully to submissions for REF2021. I hope you will take some time to reflect and celebrate your individual achievements. I look forward to continuing to work with you to support excellence in research across the institution.”

The REF is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and first took place in 2014. It 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 aims to provide: accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment; benchmarking information for use within the HE sector and for public information; and to inform the selective allocation of funding for research.

In total, 157 UK universities and 76,000 academic staff participated in REF2021. Analysis included university research outputs, examples of the wider benefits of research and evidence about the research environment.

This material was assessed by a series of expert panels comprising UK and international researchers, external users of research and experts in interdisciplinary research.

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