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Welsh universities lead the UK nations for internationally excellent or world-leading research impact

12 May 2022 3 minute read
Cardiff University. Picture by Stan Zurek. Bangor University. Picture: Denis Egan. Swansea University picture by SwanseaUni. (CC BY-SA 4.0) Aberystwyth University picture by Tanya Dedyukhina (CC BY 3.0).

Welsh Universities lead the UK nations for internationally excellent or world-leading research Impact, according to the results of the official research impact evaluations of British higher education institutions published today.

According to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), Wales has a higher proportion of research whose impact is considered internationally excellent or world-leading than the UK as a whole.

In the latest UK-wide assessment of the quality of research, Welsh performance improved overall and across all areas for the proportion of research judged three and four stars, with four being the highest measure.

Across the 129 UK Universities submitted to the REF, Cardiff University was 22nd in the UK for research, Bangor 42nd, Swansea 48th and Aberystwyth 65th.

Cardiff Metropolitan University was 81st, the University of South Wales was 101th and Wrexham Glyndwr University in the 129th spot.

Commenting on today’s results, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Chair of Universities Wales, said: “Wales’ universities carry out high-quality research across a range of subject areas – and today’s REF results show that this research is having an impact.

“Our universities have proven their ability to efficiently leverage the work they do and deliver tangible benefits to communities in Wales, the UK and across the world.

“Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of Wales’ research success. Programmes such as Global Wales will provide us with opportunities to build on these results, strengthening international partnerships to sustain a vibrant, internationally connected research sector that delivers for Wales now and in the future.”

‘Globally significant’

90% of research at Cardiff University was deemed officially world-leading or internationally excellent.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan said: “With 90% of our research independently assessed as being either world-leading or internationally excellent, our position as one of the UK’s and Wales’s leading research-intensive universities is officially confirmed.

“These results show not only the huge commitment of our staff, but also that our research continues to have a real impact on everyday life.”

For Bangor University, which came second in Wales, 85% of the research was judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent. Overall, Bangor University is ranked 2nd in Wales.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Iwan Davies, said: “These results put Bangor University at the forefront of developing significant responses to the challenges of the world we live in, namely sustainability, low carbon, preventative health, promoting technology and innovation, and culture and the arts.

“It is at the edge of disciplines that researchers achieve real innovation and Bangor’s interdisciplinary globally significant research is demonstrating real-world impact.

“Our ranking of second overall in Wales clearly demonstrates our commitment to supporting a quadruple helix of research, industry expertise, government and civic engagement benefiting the economy and society in North Wales and beyond.”


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Brian Clement
Brian Clement
4 months ago

REF is a time-wasting exercise and completely drains lecturing staff. It has become an obsession with most university managers, who in many instances couldn’t write a shopping list let alone an academic paper. Scrap it and let us get back to the days when universities were seen as hotbeds of open intellectual debate, rather than pointless bureaucracy.

Cynan
Cynan
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Clement

Is it time wasting though? R&D tax credits, increased reputation, attractiveness to new students, betterment of the world at large, sharing cutting edge knowledge. Intellectual debate is of course important but is a very silo mentality. There are so many other benefits to be had by moving forward rather than “going back”. We have done the past. We have seen the results. Look at the world today. We need to step it up. Collaboration, sharing knowledge and research, combining more brainpower and imparting 21st century skill sets and methodologies to students should very much be the aspiration now, not filling… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Cynan
CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

I have to agree with you on your main point. Student debt and massive bureaucracies that suck up budgets aside (although also valid points), the former university model is becoming a bit redundant in the Internet age. Having research-led institutions, first and foremost, is a far more attractive proposition (depending on the area). Wales could do more on this front – specialisation is the key. If each Welsh uni became a world leader in a specific field, it creates a framework for our whole economy. For the arts and humanities, however, I have to agree with the original comment. Universities… Read more »

Nia James
Nia James
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

You’ve thrown the trendy lexicon at this one Cynan. With all those chic cliches you sound like a manager with Higher Education. For the record, I went to Cambridge on a scholarship and I think you’ll find that there are as many “snobs” in several of our Welsh universities as there are in Oxbridge institutions.

Cynan
Cynan
4 months ago
Reply to  Nia James

I am guessing from your Cambridge credentials that you are in favour of old school “learning by rote to benefit the individual” Nia. I can explain – in detail – every single one of those “chic cliches” from the “trendy lexicon”. Since every single one of them has a purpose, has been analysed, peer reviewed, costed and are being taught in universities including crusty old Harvard. (Funnily enough I was viewing some online lectures from Harvard on effective collaboration just last night) Yes I am a manager WITH higher education but I worked my way up from the tools. “The… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Cynan
Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Hi Cynan, my eldest wants to go to Harvard to study History, any tips? he will have a scholarship from UWC Davis scholarship probably but an insight to their acceptance guidelines would be helpful.
Thanks

Cynan
Cynan
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Sorry, I only went to a Polytechnic. I meant I was watching free stuff from Harvard on YouTube.
Very best of luck to your eldest though.

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

and me lol okay thanks though

Deiniol
Deiniol
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

you are mixing up research with teaching. Research staff do little teaching as they are roo busy trying to get into ref submissions.. Teaching staff do little research as they are too busy trying to keep students satisfied so they score well in student satisfaction surveys.

Cynan
Cynan
4 months ago
Reply to  Nia James

Sorry Nia, I read back my last post and it’s pretty snotty even by my low standards. I can’t edit it or delete it now, but my deepest apologies for the “joke” at the end. It was entirely uncalled for, especially since you earned your entry on merit via scholarship
If it makes you feel any better I’ve got even worse ones about blydi Durham (where the stupider Eton “graduates” go)

Nia James
Nia James
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Diolch Cynan. Apology accepted. I agree with your thoughts regarding Old Etonians. I came across a few of them at Cambridge. Totally condescending and uncaring individuals.

CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

👏👏👏 We in the indy movement have the high ground. You’ve shown that here, Cynan. Arbennig, rhethreg a gras.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Is this a ‘spot the odd one out’ competition?

Or did the Swansea architect just use Cardiff as a template…

Last edited 4 months ago by Mab Meirion
Cynan
Cynan
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

People do seem to like the “grand old greco-roman halls of academe” look to their universities. Or at least the elderly people who hold the purse strings do. On the one hand I love the fact my kid gets to learn in the Bangor “Hogwarts” library (when she can be bothered to shift herself up the hill), but on the other hand, I prefer to see new campuses embracing modernity, new ideas, new green, ergonomic, energy and money saving low carbon technologies. Reflective of what the world can be tomorrow. Not how it was centuries ago. Swansea’s new campus and… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Even the representation of Aber is not the actual Uni on the Hill, the one with, arguably, the best view in the country…

Talking of Libraries, the old Coleg Harlech Library was my favourite…such a shame and that is putting it mildly…

Last edited 4 months ago by Mab Meirion
Harry Williamson
Harry Williamson
4 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

Good point about Swansea’s Bay Campus Cynan. It started promisingly, but it has become a concrete jungle. For future reference, it is Graeco not “Greco”.

Cynan
Cynan
4 months ago

Correction received with gratitude. “Graeco” it is

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