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REF2021 results

REF2021 confirms growth in research excellence and impact at Newcastle

Published on: 12 May 2022

The national assessment of research performance has reported world-leading research with outstanding impact for society and the economy across all disciplines at Newcastle University.

Last carried out in 2014, REF2021 assessed the University’s research in 27 ‘Units of Assessment’ that span academic disciplines from Clinical Medicine to Art and Design. The submission included 1,452 independent researchers who collectively contributed 3,167 research outputs as well as more than 113 ‘impact case studies’ that describe the benefits of our research to society and the economy.

The University’s submission was assessed alongside all other UK universities by expert panels which include academics, international members, and the end-users of research such as people from industry and charities.

The results show that the University’s research capacity - or ‘power’ in REF terms - has grown by 65% since 2014.

42% of our research was scored as world-leading up from 31% in 2014. Grade Point Average (GPA), the assessment of quality, has increased from 3.09 to 3.29 (out of a maximum of 4* world-leading).

These reflect the contributions from a growing team of researchers which has increased by 54% this time.

The results consolidate our position as one of the UK’s world-leading broad-based research-intensive universities.

The REF results reinforce the University’s excellent recent performance in global university rankings which improved since 2016 in Leiden (114th to 66th), QS (168th to 134th) and THE (190th to 146th).

And last month, Newcastle was ranked first in the UK and 8th in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022.  The rankings assess a university’s work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and Newcastle’s world-leading research in this area was key to achieving this.

See our REF2021 results on this webpage.  


"collective excellence"

Vice-Chancellor and President of Newcastle University, Professor Chris Day said: “I commend everyone across the University who has worked so hard to deliver the outstanding research that is reflected in today’s results.

“The results of REF2021 confirm that the research, researchers and teams at Newcastle University are recognised as Visibly Leading in their disciplines and are changing the world for the better.  

“The results also recognise the progress we have made on our Vision and Strategy. By working together and integrating research for discovery and impact with education for life, engagement and place, and global strategies, we are growing in research capacity and power.”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research Strategy and Resources, Professor Brian Walker said: “We’re celebrating the contribution that everyone has made to our collective excellence, creativity and impact across the full range of disciplines.

“I welcome the move in REF2021 away from an out-of-date focus on individual academics in favour of recognising that research is a team sport and that the best research comes from the collective efforts of many different people.

“The results reflect our collective excellence and the increasing diversity and capacity of our research teams. They also show how working together with our partners and stakeholders has released the economic and societal impact from our research, which is recognised as a major strength at Newcastle.”

About REF2021

REF2021 is the latest in a series of national research assessment exercises in recent decades. It encompasses research undertaken from 2014 until December 2020, although the submission was delayed by the pandemic. The Research Excellence Framework is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE). Its main purpose is to provide the evidence base for continued investment of public funds in a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across UK higher education institutions.

Research power is calculated as the multiple of the grade point average (GPA) by the number of researchers returned.

Our REF2021 results are available here.

Working together for impact for society and the economy

Read more about how our teams are collaborating to change the world

The ovarian cancer drug developed by Newcastle scientists
An ovarian cancer treatment, Rubraca®, developed by scientists across our University with the support of charity, Cancer Research UK, is leading the way internationally as a treatment option for the life-threatening condition.
Read more here. 

How we’re putting Newcastle on the poetry map
Beyond the Newcastle Poetry Festival, we have established ourselves as a poetry capital attracting world renowned poets and embedding poetry into communities and everyday life.
Read more here. 

Is seaweed the answer to more sustainable laundry?
Seaweed might not be something you instantly think of as clean, but our teams are working with industry to develop a new laundry product that lowers emissions, protects the environment and saves UK families money on household bills.
Read more here. 

Health for Wealth: Levelling up the North-South health divide
Our research has revealed that people in deprived areas are living eight to 10 years less than those in more affluent places. As well as exposing the health inequalities our team is offering solutions to address these disparities.
Read more here. 

How we're protecting Hadrian’s Wall for the future
Our experts working alongside local people and heritage partners is helping to save the 1,900-year-old Hadrian’s Wall for future generations.
Read more here.

Preventing the next global pandemic
Hot spots of antibiotic resistance are known to exist around the world and growing evidence, including from our own team, suggests the problem of increasing antibiotic resistance will not be solved by prudent antibiotic use alone and improving environmental quality around the world may be of equal or greater importance.
Read more here. 

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
Research from our researchers has helped revolutionise treatment for Type 2 diabetes after a ground-breaking study showed the disease was not an incurable, lifelong condition but could be reversed through weight loss. The diet is now being tested in thousands of patients in the NHS.
Read more here. 

Improving toilet provision for disabled people
The Nowhere To Go group is leading to direct change in local government policy as they work with disability and carer groups and North East local authorities to improve the provision and accessibility of public toilets.
Read more here. 

How we’re putting the sunshine into sunny side up eggs
We’re cracking the problem of vitamin D deficiency in the UK and that’s why our logo is on the lid of a box of Happy Eggs. Alongside our industry partners we have developed a whole new diet rich in vitamin D for their hens which means more vitamin D is present in the eggs the hens lay.
Read more here. 

Read more from our teams who are collaborating to change the world 


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