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The University of Southampton
Interdisciplinary Research Excellence

University of Southampton proves its world-leading research status

Published: 18 December 2014

The University of Southampton has reaffirmed its position as one of the leading research universities, following publication of the latest national assessment of research (Thursday 18 December).

Southampton is ranked 11th in the UK based on the volume and quality of its research in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. Over 97 per cent of the University’s research environment has been assessed as world-leading and internationally excellent. Nearly 90 per cent of its research has been assessed as having world-leading and internationally excellent impact.

In the first major assessment of UK research since 2008, Southampton remains one of the leading universities across a wide range of subjects:

Professor Judith Petts, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) for the University of Southampton, said: “These results are an excellent endorsement of the extremely high quality of research produced by the University of Southampton and confirm our reputation as one of the most respected universities in the UK and globally.

“These results highlight our international and world-leading excellence in research across a wide range of subjects, which is a great success for our staff. Our students can be proud of the research-led education they participate in.”

The 2014 REF assesses the quality of research output, the impact it has had outside of academia, and the quality of its research environment. The results will be used by the four UK higher education funding bodies to allocate research funding. Currently, this amounts to £2 billion per year.

Southampton’s REF submission of 130 impact case studies covered 25 Units of Assessment and featured research activity involving 90 per cent of its eligible researchers (1362) from across the University. Nationally, 154 UK universities took part in the REF making over 1,900 submissions and featuring nearly 7,000 impact case studies.

Details of the University’s world-leading research can be found in our impact case studies.

The University’s full REF results are available at:

Notes for editors

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

The four UK higher education funding bodies (the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and Department for Education, Northern Ireland) allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities, based on the quality and volume of each university’s research. 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.

Aims of the Research Excellence Framework

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 are published in December 2014 and 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 is currently allocated on the basis of the 2008 results.
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