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The Business Magazine July 2024
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University of Bristol ranked fifth for research, while Oxford is UK's research powerhouse

The Business Magazine article image for: University of Bristol ranked fifth for research, while Oxford is UK's research powerhouse
Wills Memorial Building from the top of Senate House
16 May 2022
Wills Memorial Building from the top of Senate House

The University of Bristol has been ranked fifth for research in the UK, with 94 per cent of its research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent, according to the results of the Research Excellence Framework.

The University of Oxford, meanwhile, has been ranked seventh, with 91 per cent of its research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent, but leaps to first place for its volume of world­­­-leading research. The Research Excellence Framework awarded Oxford an indexed Research Power of 1,000 compared to Bristol's 441.

The University of Warwick also performed well, being ranked joint seventh in the UK for research output.

REF 2021 is a UK-wide assessment of university research carried out by the four UK higher education funding bodies. Its aim is to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education.

The REF examined the impact and outputs of 76,000 academic staff at 157 universities.

Overall, the panels judged 41 per cent of the submitted work to be ‘world-leading’ and a further 43 per cent to be ‘internationally excellent’.

Steven Hill, chairman of the REF Steering Group and Director of Research at Research England, said: "These results reinforce the UK’s position as a world leader in research, corroborating the views of international commentators and highlighting our trajectory towards global research leadership across a broad set of disciplines.

"They represent an exceptional achievement for UK university research and demonstrate the huge return on public investment in research."

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Oxford, said: "The REF 2021 results demonstrate once again that Oxford is a research powerhouse, and the impact case studies highlight our effectiveness in putting this research in service to society by making critical contributions to global health, economic prosperity and cultural life.

"The REF is one of the few opportunities to see the remarkable breadth of our research and to draw together all parts of the collegiate University in a single collaborative effort, and I would like to thank everyone involved for their contribution."

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: "These results are truly outstanding and reinforce Bristol's position as a world leader in research.

"It's especially rewarding to see exceptional performances across the full breadth of disciplines we cover, with high proportions of world-leading research in every faculty and strong performances across the board."

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Warwick, said: “These results demonstrate the truly world class quality of our research, our approach and most importantly our people.

“This is an outstanding achievement and a source of tremendous pride for everyone connected with this great institution.

“Our research has always been driven by a strong sense of purpose and commitment to ensuring what we do has a positive impact on wider society.

"From helping to save lives through our modelling work during the Covid pandemic, and the development of new, sustainable forms of transport and energy, to making a fairer criminal justice system, and supporting our cultural institutions and creative industries, our research delivers real-world benefit.


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Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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