Welsh universities celebrate research success

Welsh universities have the highest percentage of ‘world leading’ research in terms of its impact across the UK, according to the UK-wide Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 exercise.

Key facts:

  • Almost a third of submitted Welsh university research ‘world leading’
  • A further 47% of submitted Welsh university research ‘internationally excellent’
  • Wales’ performance has significantly improved since the last assessment in 2008
  • Across the UK, Welsh universities have the highest percentage of  research whose impact is ‘world leading’
  • Examples of Welsh university research making a big impact on society can be found at

The REF results follows on from an independent study by Elsevier earlier this year, which concluded that Wales’s results in field-weighted citation impact was 58% above the world average. It also showed that in terms of the top 5% of highest cited articles Welsh universities outperformed many countries of similar size. Furthermore, when normalising citations for number of researchers and research and development (R&D) spending, Wales outranks the UK average.

Chair of Universities Wales, Professor Colin Riordan said: “We’re naturally delighted with the excellent results our universities have recorded in the Research Excellence Framework’s assessment of the quality of UK university research. Much of the focus for Welsh universities since the last expert review has been on the quality of its research outputs, and the significant improvements that have been made in terms of this are testament to the hard work undertaken over the past few years.

“The significant effect that Welsh universities are having on wider society is clearly shown by these results, in areas ranging from saving lives with medical advances for the NHS to driving economic growth through innovative cutting-edge technology. Half of the work submitted for assessment was considered to be making a world-leading impact beyond academia, which clearly demonstrates that Welsh universities are delivering efficient, sustainable research that has a profound impact on all our lives.”

Chair of the Universities Wales Research Network, Professor David Shepherd said: “The 2014 REF results are testament to the hard work and commitment of our university staff and universities in Wales have the highest proportion of research work considered to make a world-leading impact on life beyond academia. The results highlight the profound impact universities are having on Welsh society, economy, public policy, culture, environment and beyond. It is further evidence of the world leading research produced by our universities and highlights that public funding for research is a good investment. Our universities’ research is helping to address global challenges, and is helping to build future national and regional economic prosperity.”