The University of Nottingham is a leading international institution carrying out world-class research, according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.
Nottingham is ranked 8th in the UK on a measure of ‘research power’, which takes into account both the quality of research and the number of research-active staff who made REF returns.
More than 97 per cent of research at the University is recognised internationally, with wide-ranging impacts on society, the economy, health and welfare, culture, public policy and the environment.
More than 80 per cent of Nottingham research is ranked in the highest categories — ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ — up from 58 per cent the last time the exercise was carried out in 2008.
The amount of Nottingham research regarded as ‘world-leading’ has almost doubled — increasing from 18 per cent to 31.6 per cent.
Results of the REF, an assessment of the quality and volume of research at 154 UK universities, confirm Nottingham’s place in the top tier of the world’s elite higher education institutions.
Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor, said: “This is a powerful confirmation both of Nottingham as a global research-intensive university, and of the quality, breadth and impact of our research. It is not just affirmation of quality, but quality at scale.
“It’s a reflection of sustained and continuing investment in our research base, and most of all it’s a reflection of the talent, dedication and sheer hard work of colleagues here. I offer my congratulations to all of them on this tremendous outcome.”
8th by research power
Research power is crucial because it gives a strong indication of a combination of world-class research, international impact, critical mass and sustainability.
Professor Saul Tendler, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “This is an outstanding result — to be 8th in the UK by research power confirms not only the strength of our research base but also the fact that we will receive continued funding to grow our research.
“It’s a huge achievement to see half of our returns being in the top ten by research power and confirms the breadth of excellence of our individual subjects.”
REF divides academic research into 36 subject areas, or ‘Units of Assessment’ (UoAs). Nottingham submitted 32 returns in 29 units, underlining its status as a comprehensive university.
In 16 of those units, the University features in the UK top ten by research power.
The University increased the number of researchers submitted — 1,404 FTE (full-time equivalent staff) this year compared to 1,388 in 2008. Only five other universities in the country submitted more members of staff.
On a measure of grade point average (GPA, between 0 and 4), The University of Nottingham scored 3.09 compared to the sector average of 3.01 and its previous score of 2.67. Nottingham had 20 units with GPA above 3.0. GPA is another strong indication of quality.
For the first time, REF measured the impact of research on society. All of the research in the Schools of Pharmacy and Education at Nottingham gained the top 4-star rating for impact, described as ‘outstanding in terms of reach and significance’.
A range of other subject areas scored very highly for impact, with all of their research described as either ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’: American & Canadian Studies, Music, Law, Sociology & Social Policy, Clinical Medicine, Classics, Nursing, Architecture & Built Environment, Public Health, Computer Science and Physics.
In all, 28 out of 32 returns had at least 75 per cent of impact that was either ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ — ranking Nottingham 7th in the UK on this measure.
Nottingham research is having real-world impact across wide range of areas, such as:
- Saving lives through faecal occult blood screening for bowel cancer
- Designing low-energy and zero-carbon housing: Creative Energy Homes
- Understanding the physiological effects on patients undergoing MRI scans
- Informing policy and practice in social tourism
- Defeating slavery, policy and practice: abolitionism then and now
Nottingham’s outstanding performance in REF 2014 follows a prestigious national accolade — winning ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2014 for the discovery of a new layer of the human eye.
Funding for research at the University reached record levels in 2013-14, with awards totalling £181m.
In the Faculty of Arts at Nottingham, more than 97 per cent of research is of international quality according to REF, with 72 per cent graded as ‘world-leading’ or internationally excellent’. Five of the 11 units submitted were in the top ten by research power.
In the Faculty of Engineering, more than 98 per cent of research is of international quality, with 85 per cent graded as ‘world-leading’ or internationally excellent’. One of the two units submitted was in the top ten by research power.
In the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, more than 97 per cent of research is of international quality, with 79 per cent graded as ‘world-leading’ or internationally excellent’. Two of the five units submitted were in the top ten by research power.
In the Faculty of Science, more than 98 per cent of research is of international quality, with 88 per cent graded as ‘world-leading’ or internationally excellent’. Four of the six units submitted were in the top ten by research power.
In the Faculty of Social Sciences, more than 96 per cent of research is of international quality, with 74 per cent graded as ‘world-leading’ or internationally excellent’. Four of the eight units submitted were in the top ten by research power.
Research Excellence Framework 2014
To distribute funds selectively on the basis of quality, the four UK higher education funding bodies — the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for Education, Northern Ireland — assess universities’ research through a periodic exercise.
This was previously known as the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), last conducted in 2008.
The 2014 Research Excellence Framework has replaced the RAE.
On the basis of the results of REF, the four UK higher education funding bodies will allocate around £2bn of research funding per year, from 2015-16 onwards.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, in the top 10 for student experience according to the Times Higher Education and winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the THE Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top one per cent of universities by the QS World University Rankings.
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