Swansea research breaks into UK top 30 – Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

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The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 show that Swansea University has achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University.It has soared up the league table to 26th in the UK from 52nd in 2008. This is the largest jump up the rankings of any research-intensive University in the UK.

Details in the table here REF2014 top 40 by GPA

‌‌The leap comes as the University prepares to open its new £450m science and innovation Bay Campus, which will allow it to make even greater strides in the future.

Professor Richard B. Davies, Swansea University's Vice-Chancellor, said: "Swansea University is on a strong upward trajectory, so we expected to see significant improvements in REF. But even we are surprised by the scale of our success. It is extremely gratifying that we have doubled our world-leading research in the six years since the 2008 results, with a third of our research now classed as world-leading. This ranks us with some of the big players in UK higher education.  It also opens up greater opportunities for research funding. We have shown that we are strong across academic disciplines, from STEM subjects to arts and humanities.”

REF2014 ‌For the first time, REF judged universities on the effect their research has on the wider world. Ninety per cent of Swansea research was judged to be internationally excellent in its impact, demonstrating our contribution to the city region, the Welsh economy, and internationally.

Swansea University submitted the work of nearly 400 staff, including 74 early career researchers, across 18 subject areas for assessment in the REF 2014.

The evidence provided included more than 1,400 research papers, book chapters, articles, books, and other published outputs from 63 research groups, as well as more than 50 case studies demonstrating the breadth and impact of the University’s research. These show that research carried out in Swansea is also having significant economic impact.

Examples of some of the world-class research submitted by Swansea University for the REF 2014 included: 

-       How Professor David Bewley-Taylor, College of Arts and Humanities, has provided a challenge to conventional wisdom within high-level debates on international drug control.

-       How Professor M Wynn Thomas and Professor Dai Smith, College of Arts and Humanities, established the Library of Wales series, which has influenced Welsh Government policy to benefit the creative industries, cultural tourism, education and general readers.

-       How researchers from the Materials Research Centre (MRC), College of Engineering, has developed new coatings for Tata Steel Europe through collaborative research.

-       How research in materials characterisation within the College of Engineering has underpinned design, efficiency and safe service in Rolls-Royce gas turbine engines.

-       How Professor David Benton, aided byresearch students and research assistants, College of Human and Health Sciences, developed an approach that allowed the design of food items to facilitate psychological functioning.

-       How impacts on policy, practice and patients have arisen from research on the economics of pain and pain management by Professor Ceri Phillips, College of Human and Health Sciences. Read more.

-       How researchers from the College of Law have shaped new law on the human rights of children and young people in Wales, which has also attracted significant international interest. Read more.

-       How researchers from the College of Law have reshaped the youth justice framework in England and Wales, through a research-led critique of the Risk Factor Prevention Paradigm. Read more.

-       How research by economists from the School of Management, which revealed deeply entrenched labour market inequalities, has directly informed policy and related debates on a broad range of inequalities in Wales and the UK, and skill mismatches in the EU. Read more.

-       How research by Professor Helen Snooks, College of Medicine, has reduced unnecessary attendance at hospital emergency departments by improving care out of hospital. Read more.

-       How researchers from the College of Medicine have demonstrated the concept of genotoxicity thresholds benefits patients and the pharmaceutical industry. Read more.

-       How research by Professor Rory Wilson, College of Science, aided public understanding of long-distance animal movements through the development of a ‘Daily Diary’ tagging device, which subsequently informed the National Geographic’s Great Migrations series. Read more.

-       How researchers from the College of Science’s Global Environmental Modelling and Earth Observation (GEMEO) group used land-surface satellite data from NASA’s orbiting Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) and worked directly with the UK Met Office and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to improve weather forecasts and climate predictions. Read more.

Professor Davies added: “What the REF 2014 results confirm is that Swansea University research is undoubtedly delivering significant, sustained and valuable economic and societal impact not just within Wales or the UK, but internationally.

“I am extremely proud of our colleagues across the University and their achievements and of the way their research is impacting so many lives, and in such a breadth and variety of ways.

“This highly successful REF 2014 outcome for Swansea rounds off what has been an extraordinary year for the University – we have seen increases in research income and student numbers, and have been awarded numerous accolades, including What Uni’s University of the Year, Insider Magazine’s University of the Year for business engagement, and shortlisting for the Times Higher Education University of the Year “Oscar”.

“And there are even greater things to come as we prepare to open our new Bay Campus in September 2015, as well as new developments and refurbishments on our Singleton Campus.  The New Year will herald a new era for Swansea University and brings us significantly closer to realising our ambition of becoming a top 200 Global University.”

For a full breakdown of the REF 2014 results visit The Times Higher Education (THE) here or the REF 2014 here.

Visit our Research pages here