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University of Southampton celebrates outstanding results for the quality of its research

Published: 18 December 2008

The University of Southampton has maintained its position as one of the UK’s top research universities, following publication of the latest national assessment of research (Thursday, 18 December).

In the first major assessment of UK research since 2001, Southampton remains one of the strongest universities for a wide range of subjects in engineering, medicine, humanities and social sciences.

In ten subject categories more than 25 per cent of the research submitted for review by University of Southampton researchers was of the highest level and world-leading in terms of its originality, significance and rigour.

In 27 of the 33 categories to which the University submitted research, over 50 per cent of the research submitted was considered of internationally excellent or world-leading quality, making Southampton one of the leading research universities in the country.

Engineering at Southampton again features very strongly, with the University joining Imperial College and the University of Cambridge in a ‘golden triangle’ of engineering research excellence, as the top three institutions in the country for their range and quality of engineering. Civil Engineering and the Environment scored especially well.

Medicine is another area in which Southampton has excelled, with primary care ranked third in the country, and other hospital-based clinical subjects and cancer studies scoring particularly highly.

Nursing and midwifery and European studies at Southampton are both in the top two in the country in their categories, computer science is joint second, and sociology and social policy is ranked third.

Other particularly high scores were achieved by Earth systems and environmental sciences, applied mathematics, and statistics and operational research.

The University’s School of Humanities featured very strongly, with excellent results for music (joint fourth in the country), European studies, archaeology and history.

A delighted University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bill Wakeham, commented: “This is an excellent endorsement of the extremely high standards of research produced by the University of Southampton. I would like to thank everyone here who contributed to such a splendid result in the RAE. It’s been the result of a lot of work and dedication from a large number of people over a long period of time and well done to you all.

“These results underline how far the University of Southampton has progressed in the past decade, to become one of the most respected research universities in the UK.”

Staff and students at the University of Southampton have more than one reason to celebrate this week. Not only have the achievements of its researchers been recognised nationally, but the University is celebrating the successes of its students with its first-ever winter graduation ceremonies.

Notes for editors

The Research Assessment Exercise

1. The Research Assessment Exercise is conducted jointly by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland (DEL).

2. The primary purpose of the RAE 2008 is to produce quality profiles for each submission of research activity made by institutions. The four higher education funding bodies will use the quality profiles to determine their grant for research to the institutions which they fund with effect from 2009-10. Any higher education institution (HEI) in the UK that is eligible to receive research funding from one of these bodies is eligible to participate in the exercise.

3. The results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise are published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and posted on HEFCE’s website www.rae.ac.uk.

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