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King's confirmed as world-leading research university

Posted on 18/12/2014
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The results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), announced today (18 December 2014), have confirmed King’s College London as a world-leading research university. 

The UK higher education funding bodies allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities, based on the quality and volume of each university’s research. As well as informing funding allocations, the REF provides accountability for public investment in research, demonstrates its benefits, and provides important reputational yardsticks and benchmarking information about the research performance of UK universities.

Top ten nationally for research ‘power’ and ‘quality’

King’s has risen to 6th position* nationally in the ‘power’ ranking – up from 11th in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008. ‘Power’ takes into account both the quality and the quantity of research activity. King’s has also risen to 7th position* for quality – up from 22nd in 2008. 84 per cent of our research has been deemed 3* and 4* (up from 61 per cent in RAE 2008), meaning that it is regarded as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. 

The proportion of the university’s overall submission classified as 4* has risen from 19 per cent in 2008 to 39 per cent in REF 2014. 

King’s submitted 1,369 staff compared with 1,172 in RAE 2008, which represents an increase of 17 per cent. 80 per cent of eligible staff were submitted to REF 2014 compared with 79 per cent last time. 

Professor Ed Byrne AC, President and Principal of King’s, said: 'This impressive result further enhances King’s reputation as a world-leading research institution delivering real impact in tackling some of the greatest challenges facing society today, both in the UK and internationally. We are very proud of the achievements of our staff, many of whom are at the cutting-edge of their disciplines and it is vitally important to us to give our undergraduate and postgraduate students access to the best minds as they pursue knowledge and prepare for future careers.'

Higher education sector comparisons

In terms of comparison across the sector, King’s has had some outstanding successes notably:

Law is 1st in the country for quality of research and 7th for power (up from 19th and 14th respectively);

Education is 2nd for quality and 4th for power;

Clinical Medicine is 3rd for quality;

General Engineering (Imaging Sciences) is 5th for quality and submitted twice the number of staff compared with 2008;

Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience is 2nd in the country for power and achieved 100 percent 4* ranking for research ‘environment’;

Politics and International Studies is 1st for power*;

History is 5th for quality and 7th for power;

Philosophy is 3rd for quality and 3rd for power;

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies (Culture, Media and Creative Industries and Digital Humanities) are 1st for power and 8th for quality and scored 100% at 4* for research ‘environment’.

Based on proportions of research at 3* and 4*, 19 of our 27 submissions rank in the top quartile nationally. Outstanding performances include: General Engineering (Imaging Sciences) with a total of 99 per cent, putting us in first position nationally in terms of proportion of submissions ranked at 4*/3*; Clinical Medicine with 93 percent, also in first position nationally in terms of proportion of submissions ranked at 4*/3*; and the three submissions to Subjects Allied to Medicine (Dentistry; Nursing & Midwifery and Palliative Care; and Pharmacy, Nutritional Sciences and Women’s Health), which also achieved scores in the 90s. 

Research outputs

For research outputs, 15 of 27 Units of Assessment have achieved an upper quartile ranking based on 3* and 4* classifications. Particularly strong performances have been seen for General Engineering (Imaging Sciences), Clinical Medicine, Dentistry and Mathematics. 

Impact

The ‘impact’ of research was introduced as a new metric in the REF and represents 20 percent of the overall submission. Eighteen of King’s 27 submissions have upper quartile status based on 3* and 4* quality ratings. In particular the areas of Education; Culture, Media and Creative Industries/Digital Humanities; Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care; Public Health; General Engineering and Law scored highly for impact. 

Furthermore, measured against other multi-disciplinary universities, rather than specialist higher education institutions, King’s is ranked 4th in the country for research impact. Some of our REF impact case studies are available on our Research in Action and Making A Difference web pages.

*Times Higher Education REF rankings

Notes to editors

For King’s interview requests please contact: pr@kcl.ac.uk or 020 7848 3202.

About the Research Excellence Framework 2014

The four UK higher education funding bodies allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities, based on the quality and volume of each university’s research. 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. 

Aims of the Research Excellence Framework

To distribute funds selectively on the basis of quality, the funding bodies assess universities’ research through a periodic exercise. This was previously known as the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and was last conducted in 2008.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) replaced the RAE. It assessed the quality and impact of research submitted by UK universities across all disciplines. The results will be used by the funding bodies to allocate block-grant research funding to universities from 2015-16.

As well as informing funding allocations, the REF provides accountability for public investment in research, demonstrates its benefits, and provides important reputational yardsticks and benchmarking information about the research performance of UK universities.

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