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by Louise Wilson
12 May 2022
Scottish universities deliver ‘world-leading research’

Scottish universities deliver ‘world-leading research’

Every university in Scotland delivers world-leading research, a fresh assessment has concluded.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) – which takes place every few years to assess research performance in higher education institutions across the UK – found all 18 Scottish universities delivered the highest quality research in at least one discipline.

Of the research submitted to the REF by Scottish institutions, 85 per cent of it was judged to be “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” – slightly ahead of UK universities on 84 per cent as a whole.

The REF is used to benchmark the quality of research against other institutions around the world and is used by financial backers looking to invest.

Universities Scotland, the umbrella group, said the REF has proven the worth of the research sector.

Director Alastair Sim called for more investment to ensure the sector remained competitive.

He said: “Having world-leading research in every institution in Scotland is a huge asset for this nation. Public investment in university research crowds in private investment, generating a bigger economic return with a multiplier of 8:1.

“Our research creates clusters of growth and innovation around new and emerging industries, catalysing external investment within Scotland and the wider world which ultimately creates jobs.

“It is imperative that Scotland maximises this opportunity and leverages the potential that exists with research for sustainable economic growth.”

Scottish universities made up four of the top ten universities for research in architecture, the build environment and planning.

Three institutions made the top ten for mathematical sciences.

The last REF exercise took place in 2014 and found 77 per cent of Scottish research was “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”, though methodological changes mean a direct comparison cannot be made with the latest edition.

The exercise also measured the impact of the research, finding 87 per cent received a 4* or 3* rating (the top two awards).

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