Newman University, Birmingham has more than doubled the amount of world-leading research carried out by its academics, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF), published this morning.

The REF provides a robust and a thorough assessment of the quality of universities’ research in all disciplines, providing accountability for public investment in research and demonstrating the benefits of that investment.

Newman entered more than twice the number of staff for the 2021 Framework than in 2014 when the last REF was conducted. All subject areas submitted were assessed as including a percentage of ‘internationally significant’ work, while five subject areas – Education, History, Sport, Social Work and Social Policy, and English – were also assessed to produce work of ‘world-leading’ quality – the highest possible grade. In fact, 94% of publications in English Language and Literature were rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Peter Childs, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Newman University, said: “In this national peer review exercise, the results show a magnificent achievement for the University, which more than doubled the number of staff submitted to the Research Excellence Framework in 2021 in comparison with the last exercise in 2014.

“Newman also more than doubled the percentage of world-leading (4* rated) research recognised by the REF and congratulations must go to all staff involved.

“As a teaching-led university, our staff undertake research alongside considerable teaching and other professional commitments. This places real demands on our academic staff but ensures our students benefit from being taught by the same lecturers actively working at the cutting edge of their fields, making an active contribution to our vibrant academic community right from day one of their course.”

A vital element of REF is illustrating the benefits research delivers beyond academia, including how it brings tangible changes to aspects of society and life, and the public value it delivers. This was particularly highlighted in Newman’s Sport research, where a percentage of the impact was rated as internationally significant for its influence on the wider community.

Speaking on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, Steven Hill, Chair of the REF Steering Group and Director of Research at Research England, said:

“These results today reinforce the UK’s position as a world leader in research, corroborating the views of international commentators and highlighting our trajectory towards global research leadership across a broad set of disciplines. They represent an exceptional achievement for UK university research and demonstrate the huge return on public investment in research.

REF is at the forefront of approaches to capturing the impact from research, and demonstrates a substantial range of benefits. The real differences made to people’s lives, both across the UK and around the world, that are narrated through the impact case studies are in many cases humbling and, in our current times, a significant example of this is provided in our universities’ outstanding contribution to the Covid pandemic.

Universities and their staff have had to respond to the pandemic in multiple ways. Their commitment to working with the funding bodies to deliver REF 2021 has been considerable. The incredible contribution both of those making the submissions and of our expert panels, through these unprecedented times, has allowed us to deliver a rigorous and timely set of results.”

REF submission outputs are defined as any form of research published within the set timeframe, including but not limited to chapters in books, designs, exhibitions, journal articles, monographs and performances.

This material was assessed by a series of expert panels comprising UK and international researchers, external users of research and experts in interdisciplinary research. Results are produced as ‘overall quality profiles’, comprising three elements: Quality of research outputs (60%); Social economic and cultural impact of research (25%); and Research environment (15%)

The quality profiles awarded are: 4* (world leading), 3* Internationally excellent, 2* (recognised internationally), 1* (recognised nationally), and U (unclassified).

Overall, the panels judged 41 per cent of the submitted work to be ‘world-leading’ (4*) and a further 43 per cent to be ‘internationally excellent’ (3*). Full results are available at www.ref.ac.uk