Skip to main content
Thursday 12 May 2022

World-leading research at UCLan doubles as REF 2021 results are revealed

World-leading and international excellent credentials highlighted in 19 academic areas

Academic staff from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are celebrating today after the long-awaited results of the UK 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) were unveiled.

All 19 academic areas submitted to REF by UCLan have been officially recognised as demonstrating elements of world-leading and internationally excellent research.

In comparison to the University’s last REF submission in 2014 the results highlight a doubling of world-leading research produced by UCLan academics and a doubling of how it has made a difference in the real world (known as impact).

The REF is a government assessment of the quality of research across UK Higher Education that takes place every seven years, providing accountability for public funding for research and informing the future funding allocation of £1 billion per year nationally.

UCLan’s top performing area was Physics with 90% of the research submission rated as world-leading and internationally excellent overall (4/3-star). Social Work and Social Policy, another traditional research strength at UCLan, also performed well with 83% of its overall research submission ranked 4/3-star. The area of Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy scored 79% overall for 4/3-star while Modern Languages and Linguistics scored 75% for 4-star impact. Philosophy, a first-time UCLan entrant to REF, was ranked 8th out of 35 submissions nationally for 4-star impact with 50% of the research rated as world-leading. Business and Management Studies scored particularly well in terms of research impact with 100% of its submission being ranked 4/3-star – a substantial increase on REF2014 and in the UK’s top 20% for 4-star impact.

"By placing real-world research, innovation and enterprise as a key pillar of our new strategic plan, we look forward to building on these achievements and the opportunities they offer in the coming years"

Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin

Overall, 72% of the University’s submissions have been classified as having outstanding or very considerable impact in terms of reach and significance (in the top 4-star and 3-star categories). In addition to Business and Management Studies and Modern Languages and Linguistics, disciplines with the best impact ratings include: Social Work and Social Policy; Physics; Art and Design; Philosophy; History; Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies.

Commenting on the results Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin said: “Our REF2021 results highlight the strength, diversity and impact of research carried out by the University’s academic community. Many of our researchers are world-leading experts whose work is transforming lives globally and I am enormously proud of their achievements.

“By placing real-world research, innovation and enterprise as a key pillar of our new strategic plan, we look forward to building on these achievements and the opportunities they offer in the coming years.”

"For all 19 of our academic areas to have been officially recognised as demonstrating elements of world-leading and internationally excellent research is exceptional so I couldn’t be more thrilled with how our academics have risen to the challenge."

Professor StJohn Crean, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)

Professor StJohn Crean, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), added: “For all 19 of our academic areas to have been officially recognised as demonstrating elements of world-leading and internationally excellent research is exceptional so I couldn’t be more thrilled with how our academics have risen to the challenge.

“From life sciences and physical sciences, to social sciences, arts and humanities, the impact achieved by our research in health, on lives and on businesses, locally and across the world, is outstanding.

“We have demonstrated our impact in more than 68 countries, reaching 18 million people and organisations while influencing policy locally and globally and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

UCLan research is contributing towards UN Sustainability Goals and two-thirds of its REF2021 Impact Case Studies involve countries receiving Official Development Assistance funding or UK areas ranking in the 25% most deprived nationally.

UCLan REF2021 submission key facts

  • 1,032 research submissions including 825 journal articles, 68 books written by UCLan staff, 64 book chapters and 58 ‘non-standard’ outputs such as exhibitions, art works and musical compositions.
  • 445 UCLan academic staff have made research submissions to the REF, a 70% increase on the previous submission in 2014.
  • 50 impact case studies submitted that describe how our research has made a difference in the real world.
  • Research submitted across all four REF panels, which range from a 4-researcher submission in Mathematics to a 90-researcher submission in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy.
  • Significant investment made in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research during REF2021. Approximately one third of the UCLan submission is STEM-facing.
  • A third of UCLan’s REF2021 Impact Case Studies are linked to health and wellbeing.

UCLan’s REF results can be found here. UCLan’s REF impact case studies can be found here.