Research Excellence Framework 2014


  • Dundee top University in UK for biological sciences
  • Excellent result in STEM subjects
  • 76 per cent of research `world-leading’ or `internationally renowned’


Research at the University of Dundee has been ranked among the very best in the UK in the main test of research quality carried out by higher education funding bodies.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 has seen research assessed for quality and impact. The results of the REF will be used by the funding bodies, who between them allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities, based on the quality and volume of each university’s research.

Dundee recorded the highest level of 4-star, or `world-leading’, research in the biological sciences of any University in the UK, and achieved an outstanding set of results across the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering & maths - where the University’s quality profile was the highest in Scotland.

The University’s efforts to deliver on its vision of transforming lives locally, nationally and globally is also reflected in high scores for `Impact’ across many of its research areas, from clinical medicine, which was first in the UK, to social work.

“This is a very strong result for Dundee and testament to the hard work of our staff across the University,” said Professor John Connell, Vice-Principal for Research at the University of Dundee.

“We already have an excellent reputation around the world for the quality and impact of the research carried out at our College of Life Sciences but it is still a tremendous achievement to be ranked the top University in the UK for biological sciences research.

“Across the STEM subjects we had particularly good returns for Civil and General Engineering – civil among the very best in the UK and General Engineering top in Scotland - Mathematics, which was also top in Scotland,  Computing Science and our research across medicine, dentistry and nursing.

“Impact has been a key measure of quality in the REF so I am delighted to see we have been recognised for great achievements in that aspect across much of the research we do. Our mission as a University is to transform lives locally, nationally and globally and the impact of our research is vital to our success in meeting that goal.

“If you look across the institution, from social work to clinical medicine and from Law to computing, we see scores at or near 100 per cent of our research being ranked three- or four-star for Impact.”

The Research Excellence Framework is conducted jointly by the four UK funding bodies for higher education - the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and Department for Education, Northern Ireland.

They aim to support a dynamic and internationally competitive UK research sector that makes a major contribution to economic prosperity, national wellbeing and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge.

To distribute funds selectively on the basis of quality, the funding bodies assess universities’ research through a periodic exercise. This was previously known as the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and was last conducted in 2008.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) replaced the RAE. It assessed the quality and impact of research submitted by UK universities across all disciplines. The results published in December 2014 will be used by the funding bodies to allocate block-grant research funding to universities from 2015-16.

As well as informing funding allocations, the REF provides accountability for public investment in research, demonstrates its benefits, and provides important reputational yardsticks and benchmarking information about the research performance of UK universities.

REF2014 key facts

     ?  154 UK universities took part. They made 1,911 submissions for:

          – 52,077 academic staff

          – 191,232 research outputs

          – 6,975 impact case studies.

     ?  36 expert sub-panels reviewed the submissions, overseen by four main panels

     ?  around £2 billion per year of research funding will be allocated on the basis of the results.


Roddy Isles
Head of Press
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