Results of Research Excellence Framework 2021 published

Date posted

11 May 2022


Edinburgh Napier University’s research power has been highlighted in a wide-ranging assessment of research quality in UK universities.

The activity at the University assessed as “internationally excellent” and “world-leading” by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) has leapt from 53 to 68 per cent since the last time the exercise was carried out in 2014.

And the University’s research power metric, which takes into account the overall quality of the submission and the number of researchers whose work was submitted, rocketed from 250 to 718. The feat gave the University top ranking among the Scottish modern or post-1992 universities.

Edinburgh Napier was also the top Scottish modern for research impact.

The improved ratings are all the more remarkable after the University chose to submit the work of more than 250 researchers, up from under 100 last time around, showing the strength and depth that now exists across research areas.

The REF - the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions - is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE).

A total of 157 UK institutions participated in the exercise, which is used to inform the allocation of around £2 billion of research funding per year. The thoroughness of the exercise is designed to provide accountability for public investment in research, demonstrating its benefits and impact.

REF 2021 – for which submission deadlines were extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic – assessed 21 per cent of Edinburgh Napier’s activity as world-leading and 47 per cent as internationally excellent.

The University’s improved power rating should now see research funding increase as it takes significant strides to grow its reputation as a research-focused institution as well as a teaching one.

The research submitted covered a wide range of academic disciplines, from environmental science and computer science to built environment and social policy. It included projects focusing on mangrove and seagrass conservation, cybercrime-busting technology, offsite construction solutions, cardiovascular health and police stop and search policy.

Head and shoulders of Nick Antonopoulos in light shirt and blue tie

Of the 13 units of assessment (UoAs) submitted, Edinburgh Napier improved in every single one.

Professor Nick Antonopoulos, Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, said: “I am delighted to see these REF results firmly placing Edinburgh Napier as the Number One Modern University in Scotland, both in research power and impact. This is the outcome of the tireless, collaborative efforts of our academic and professional services staff over the past seven years, for which I am truly grateful.

“These outcomes, and in particular the fact that nearly 70 per cent of our research has been evaluated as internationally excellent or world-leading, provide the best possible confirmation that Edinburgh Napier delivers excellent research with substantial real impact, nationally and internationally.

“These achievements are even more remarkable when we consider the funding that Edinburgh Napier has been receiving, and clearly illustrate that as an institution we deliver considerable additional value for money in research and innovation.

“Going forward, through our continuous investment into our great staff, we are confident that by the next REF exercise we will be able to establish ourselves as one of the world leading UK universities in research.”