Considering A UK University? Check Its Current REF Ranking
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is an exercise instituted by the British Government to inspect and monitor the research output of UK universities.
The REF ranking of a university determines how much research funding it would get from the UK government. There is more than $3 Billion a year up for grabs, plus other benefits. Therefore, most schools take the REF ranking serious. Especially those that claim to be “world-class”.
154 UK universities took part in the REF.191,150 research outputs by 52,061 academic staff were reviewed by special panels.
The REF result for research between the years 2008-2013, was released on the 18th of December 2014.
Some universities saw their REF rankings drop, while some moved up in the ranking table.
How the REF process works
Institutions are asked to submit at least four of their best research outputs completed by staffs. Research submissions can be in up to 36 subject areas.
Research outputs are reviewed by a team of academics and industry experts.
The University is graded, and ranked in comparison to other Universities in the UK.
Research and impact
Research is now judged partly on the impact it has had in the real world (outside academia). These criterias account for 20% of the overall score.
By doing so, the UK government hopes to reward universities that engage with business and civil society.
However, this has not failed to raise controversy. Academics have complained that this demand adds an extra layer of protocols. University heads now have to provide case studies proving impact.
For example, details of how a piece of medical science has benefited the wider community — which requires them to collect additional data
What does REF mean for prospective students?
The REF ranking is a clearer option to access UK universities, especially if you’re interested in schools that are research intensive or properly funded. So before you apply to a UK University, you may want to check its REF ranking.