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May 12, 2022 | News

Surrey celebrates research excellence accolades in UK rankings

Surrey celebrates research excellence accolades in UK rankings

The University of Surrey is today celebrating independent assessment of the excellence of its research and innovation work, with the University moving up 12 places to 33rd in the UK rankings for overall research quality.

The rankings draw on the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF2021) – published today after a pandemic delay – with 41% of Surrey’s research rated as world-leading, the highest possible rating, up from 22% when REF last took place in 2014. The University is now also ranked in the top 20 in the UK for the overall quality of research outputs – research papers and other published works.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for independently assessing the quality of research in higher education institutions. It is an enormous exercise and is only published every five to seven years. It has a direct impact on the allocation of future government research funding.

Highlights from the University of Surrey’s REF 2021 results include:

  • Rated in the top 20 for the quality of our research outputs
  • 6th for research power – the quality and scale of the University’s health research
  • 15th for research power – the quality and scale of the University’s engineering research
  • 10th for the quality and 6th for the real-world impact of our economics research.

Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Surrey, said:

“This is a moment of pride in our inspirational academics and celebration of the excellence and impact of their research, confirmed today by the REF 2021 results.  Our University strategy places research and innovation at the heart of our academic mission.  Today’s results will help us focus our efforts for the years to come, ensuring that we will continue to deliver excellent research and societal impact that changes the world for the better.

“The outcome of REF 2021 confirms our status as one of the leading research-intensive universities in the UK, delivering world-leading and globally excellent outputs supported by a research environment that supports our researchers to continue to discover, create and innovate.”

Councillor Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said:

“The results of the REF are great news for the University of Surrey and the county more widely. Having a world-leading, global research university at the heart of our community means we are ideally placed to welcome new investment, and innovative businesses and start-ups, bringing with them high-skilled jobs and driving economic growth. With the University leading the way in so many areas, Surrey’s global reputation as an outstanding place to live, work and visit is vital in helping us lead the economic recovery and in ensuring that no one is left behind.”


Examples of the submissions that contributed to the University of Surrey’s results can be found on our website.

About REF: 

More detail on the full UK REF results can be found on the REF 2021 website. The four UK higher education funding bodies allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities. They aim to support a dynamic and internationally competitive UK research sector that makes a major contribution to economic prosperity, national wellbeing and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge.

To distribute funds selectively on the basis of quality, the funding bodies assess universities’ research through a periodic exercise – previously known as RAE now REF. The REF was last conducted in 2014, and now again in 2021, the results will be used to allocate research funding from 2022-23.

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