An update from the Vice-Chancellor
Posted on behalf of: Internal Communications
Last updated: Thursday, 12 May 2022
Today (12 May 2022) David Maguire, Interim Vice-Chancellor sent a message to all staff. You can read the message below:
The REF is a national, independent peer-review exercise undertaken every six to seven years to assess the quality of research across UK universities. The last was in 2014.
We were hoping for good results, and now have much to celebrate as the results show that we have improved our research standing. The findings show that 89 per cent of Sussex research submitted for assessment for REF 2021 has been graded as ‘world leading’ (4*, the highest score) or ‘internationally excellent’ (3*, second highest).
It is also highly rewarding to see that 93 per cent of the research impact (defined as real-world benefits the research has delivered) is considered ‘outstanding’ (the top score), or ‘very considerable’. This has increased from 80.7 per cent in the last REF and shows that we really are fulfilling our Sussex 2025 strategic aims to build on strengths and deliver research with impact.
These results put us in a strong position in competing for a share of the £2bn annual funding allocated by UK higher education funding bodies to the 157 institutions who took part in the exercise.
They will also be good news for our position in the various HE league tables that use REF results for their analytics. This morning Times Higher Education (THE) analysis of the REF 2021 results has placed us 30th of all multi-disciplinary institutions in the UK (submitting to more than three subject areas) by grade point average (GPA). This is a rise from 36th in 2014. The THE has also ranked the University of Sussex 27th of all UK institutions for both ‘Research Power' and 'Market Share' - up from 34th in 2014, based on its analysis of the REF 2021 results. Additionally, Sussex is 32nd in the UK for research impact in the THE rankings – up twenty places from 52nd in 2014. Over half of our submissions are in the top 20 of their REF 2021 subject areas by GPA. See more information about the THE analysis.
Importantly, these remarkable results help to strengthen Sussex’s reputation as a world-leading, research-intensive university that brings tangible benefits to people’s lives. I want to thank all those whose work has helped us to achieve them.
Sussex has scored particularly highly for benefits it has brought about beyond academia (impact), compared to the previous REF in 2014. One hundred per cent of both Education and Sociology were awarded the top grade of 4* - ‘outstanding’ – by the REF 2021 for impact. And at least three quarters (75 per cent or more) of research impacts submitted by Chemistry; History; Art History; Philosophy; and Geography were also assessed as ‘outstanding’.
The quality of University of Sussex research overall was also recognised in the REF 2021 results. In six of our REF 2021 subject area submissions, 50 per cent or more of our overall research was assessed as ‘world-leading’ (4*): Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience; Education; English Language &Literature; History; Art & Design: History, Practice and Theory; Communication, Cultural & Media Studies. Additionally, our submission to these and three further REF 2021 subject areas were in the top 25 per cent (‘upper quartile’) of their UK submissions: Computer Science and Informatics; Business and Management Studies; Sociology.
This is all cause for celebration, but I also want to add that REF results are not an end in themselves. By its nature, the REF is selective and not an absolute judgment of the diversity and value of our collective work. Our purpose as a university is to continue to challenge and explore, and we must encourage our researchers to think in the broadest perspective about the significance of their work and where it could lead.
Our goal is to be a great institution in all respects, not just a REF winner. Colleagues here are valued for the many roles they play in making this a great educational institution.
But we can deservedly congratulate ourselves on this highly pleasing set of results. Very well done and thank you to everyone.