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REF 2021: Excellent foundations

Image: Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

REF results provide a platform for innovation strategy and levelling up, says George Freeman

From proof of the Big Bang to the design of the first Covid-19 vaccine to be deployed in the clinic, the UK has long been home to exceptional research with global, historic impact. With less than 1 per cent of the world’s population, the UK is home to some of the world’s top 10 universities, accounts for 7 per cent of the world’s academic publications, and has the highest citation impact per paper of any G7 country.  

It was therefore no surprise that the latest Research Excellence Framework results, assessed by the four higher education funding bodies for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, identified the truly outstanding quality of UK research. The results found over 80 per cent of research assessed to be of world-leading or internationally excellent standard, with nearly three-quarters of the country’s universities maintaining a 4*, world-leading standard for at least 15 per cent of their research activity.

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