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Research Excellence Framework 2014 confirms Abertay's 'inclusive' strategy

22 December 2014

Abertay University has achieved significant improvements in the quality of its research in recent years, and is now the leading modern university in Scotland for 'research intensity', according to the findings of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014), published last Thursday, 18 December.

Abertay's overall score rose by almost 18% compared with the previous national Research Assessment Exercise in 2008 (RAE2008) and the University scored some significant successes in individual subjects with increases in the proportion of research judged to be ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading’.

Abertay submitted 30% more staff than in RAE2008, and submitted seven Units of Assessment (UoAs) compared to six in 2008 and achieved an overall score of 2.15, which REF2014 describes as ‘quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour'. This is a significant step-change from the 1.83, 'national recognition', scored in RAE2008.  Almost two-thirds of Abertay’s psychology research and more than half of its sports science research and environmental research is rated as ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading’, and some 'world-leading' research was identified in in six of the seven subjects submitted to REF2014, compared with only two out of the six units submitted in 2008.

Professor Steve Olivier, Abertay's Vice-Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), commented:  "Unlike most other universities, Abertay deliberately chose to submit more subjects and more staff than it did in RAE2008.  This is central to our long-term plan to embed a research-led culture right across Abertay, underpinning everything we do in research, knowledge-exchange and especially teaching.  The overall improvement in REF2014 was particularly pleasing as our explicitly interdisciplinary research strategy potentially hampered success in a subject-driven assessment process."  

In total, Abertay submitted 36% of its academic staff to REF2014; compared with only around 22% submitted by the other five modern universities in Scotland.  An alternative ranking of the results by Times Higher Education magazine maps university performance against the proportion of eligible staff submitted by each institution, to counter the possible distortion of a small submission getting a higher score.  This analysis puts Abertay at 76th equal out of 128 in the UK, part of the leading group of modern universities and ahead of all other modern Scots universities.

See the REF2014 page on this site for more details.

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