REF 2014 – Top 50 for Research Power


The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 show that the University of Hull has improved in every area in which it was assessed, compared to the last evaluation in 2008.

Key figures

  • The University ranks among the top 50* institutions in the UK based on ‘research power’, which multiplies the quality of research by the volume of submissions.
  • 62% of research submitted by the University was classified as three or four stars, the highest rankings available, up from 44% in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) of 2008.
  • In six out of 16 units of assessment, at least 70% of submitted research received three or four stars.
  • Geography and Environmental Studies were ranked third for impact, with 70% of submitted research receiving four stars.
  • Computer Science was ranked in joint fifth position for impact out of 89 submissions to this unit, with 80% of submitted research receiving four stars.
  • The biggest improvement in Grade Point Average (GPA) at the University was seen in Sport and Exercise Sciences, which went from 1.55 in 2008, to 2.36 in 2014.

The University’s best result was in the area of Allied Health, where an outstanding 87% of research submitted was awarded three or four stars (31% at four star). This means the research is deemed internationally excellent (three stars) or world-leading (four stars) in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

Other areas of strength for the University include Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology; with 70% of research submitted to this unit of assessment awarded three or four stars (27% at four star). Chemistry and General Engineering also performed extremely well, with more than 75% of research submitted to each of these units achieving three or four stars.

The results of the REF 2014 are significant, as they will be used by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to help allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities. Results have improved across the higher education sector as a whole, with the proportion of research classified as four stars increasing from 17.4% in 2008, to 30% in 2014.

Dr David Richards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Hull said: “We have seen an improvement in every single area, with impressive results in key science and health subjects, and other good results elsewhere. Times Higher Education magazine places us in the top 50 institutions based on research power, which helps underline the fact that we are a strong, research-intensive university with one of the best offerings in higher education.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see that several areas have performed outstandingly well in terms of impact, especially given that this is the first time this crucial element of research has been assessed. To see both Geography and Computer Science ranked in the top 10 institutions for impact is fantastic.

“We are currently making significant investments in research and enterprise, with an ambitious review of our current research strategy already underway. This will include the establishment of seven interdisciplinary institutes, and the development of a brand new Health Hub with state-of-the-art medical and clinical research facilities.

“We aim to use this assessment as further motivation to make major progress against our research targets, and will be looking at those areas which have done particularly well to gather examples of good practice.”

The REF 2014 is the first ever assessment of research in higher education institutions to take into account the ‘impact’ that the work has had on society and the economy, with this making up 20% of the overall quality score.

The University’s highest score for impact was achieved in ‘Computer Science and Informatics’, with 80% of submitted research receiving four stars. This reflects the Department of Computer Sciences’ outstanding contribution to industry in areas such as gaming, engineering and health; and places it in joint fifth position for impact out of the 89 HEIs that submitted to this unit. One of the most remarkable projects to be conducted in the department (in collaboration with Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals) resulted in the development of a 3D virtual training environment for radiotherapy, known as VERT, which can now be found in hospitals and universities across the world.

The University’s submissions in the ‘Allied Health’ and ‘Geography and Environmental Studies’ units of assessment also scored exceptionally highly for impact, with 70% of research submitted to these units classified as outstanding in terms of its contribution to wider society.

Professor John Greenman, who led the University’s REF submission for Allied Health, said: “We are delighted with the REF 2014 results, which demonstrate that our research is not only of outstanding quality, but also that it has real-world benefits that reach far beyond the campus walls.

“Research conducted at the University of Hull has provided new insights into the causes of chronic cough, enhanced primary breast cancer treatment and pioneered the use of mobile technologies for monitoring health conditions from home. Our continued collaborations with the local NHS Trust, coupled with on-campus investment and developments, provides the perfect environment for further translational research over the next decade.”


*Times Higher Education ranked the University of Hull in 49th position out of 128 institutions according to ‘research power’.

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