Man watching leaf cutter ants.

 The University of Gloucestershire’s research has been assessed as ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ in a major national quality assessment exercise.

Published: 24/01/2015 09:48

The University of Gloucestershire’s research has been assessed as ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ in a major national quality assessment exercise.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 has been a year-long exercise to review the quality of research undertaken by all Universities in the UK. The results were announced today (Thursday, 18 December). Panels of experts have rated the quality of all the research submitted, and given it a score on a scale of 4* (which means “world leading”) to 0.

The University of Gloucestershire has achieved the top, “world leading”, score for some of the research it submitted in all six of the research areas it entered, with particular highlights coming from Sport and Exercise Sciences and Architecture, Built Environment and Planning. About one third of the research submitted achieved the second highest score, known as 3* or “internationally excellent.”

The research areas for which the University put in submissions are:

  • Architecture, Built Environment and Planning;
  • Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology;
  • Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism;
  • English Language and Literature;
  • History
  • Theology and Religious Studies.

The outcomes of the REF are used to determine a large proportion of public funding for research to the tune of £2 billion per year that will be allocated on the basis of the results.

Highlights of the University’s results were:

  • 53 per cent of the research coming from the University’s School of Sport and Exercise was rated world leading or internationally excellent.
  • Within the specific measure of whether research has impact in the real world, the School’s research achieved a 100 per cent quality rating in the top two categories, demonstrating that its research brings real-world benefits in its application to promoting exercise and wellbeing.
  • An example of the research undertaken within this area is that by Professor Diane Crone and Professor David James, and co-researchers, who investigated the use of physical activity and art interventions in health care to improve patient health and wellbeing.
  • Other research by Professor Mark De Ste Croix has led to new approaches to injury prevention for young athletes.
  • 21 per cent of the research submitted to the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning area was judged “world leading” and a further 50 per cent was judged “internationally excellent.”
  • This reflects the work of the University’s Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), which has gained an international reputation for its expertise in the environment and rural change.
  • With 71 per cent of its research in the top two quality categories, the CCRI’s performance has surpassed that of most other Universities.
  • The CCRI have carried out extensive research into local and sustainable food that has impacted at national and local levels. Nationally, it has led to changes in fishing regulations, and changes in the implementation of the Big Lottery’s Local Food programme.
  • The School of Natural and Social Sciences contributed to a research submission in the area of Geography, Environmental Studies and Archeology. Over a third of its research was rated in the top two categories.
  • That included research by Adam Hart, Professor of Science Communication, into the behaviour of ant colonies. Adam presented BBC4 documentary, Planet Ant: Life inside the Colony, reaching 1.16 million people in the first week.
  • The University’s long-established research strengths in the humanities were again demonstrated by the achievement of between one-quarter and one-third of the research being rated in the top two categories in English, History and Theology.

Stephen Marston, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gloucestershire, said: "This is a great result for the University of Gloucestershire. We are delighted that in all of the research categories we entered, some of our research has been awarded the highest quality ratings and judged world leading or internationally excellent. We are a learning-led University, rather than research-intensive. But in our selected areas of research activity, we want to be excellent, and these REF results demonstrate that we are achieving that ambition. The proportion of our research that has achieved the highest ratings has increased compared with previous research review exercises. This is a huge tribute to the staff concerned. It is their hard work, commitment and achievement that is being recognised today, winning recognition from their peers for their outstanding research in a very competitive and demanding exercise.”

“At the University of Gloucestershire the student learning experience is enriched by working in an environment underpinned by research, scholarship and professional practice. Our students benefit from a research informed environment in many ways, including learning from research findings, working on research projects, and undertaking research.”

Professor David James, Lead for Research and Dean of Academic Development at the University of Gloucestershire, said: “Our world leading and internationally excellent research across our portfolio is a credit to our talented staff and often involves contributions from our students. We encourage exchange between teaching and research, ensuring our curriculum is up-to-date and reflects research advances. Many of our research programmes involve collaborations with partners, ensuring our research is applied and of benefit to society. Our students join subject communities that conduct world leading and internationally excellent research that is contemporary and highly applied.”

For more information about the University of Gloucestershire’s research activity visit www.glos.ac.uk/research.