Education Correspondent Duncan Kenyon reports on the findings of a survey of research quality in UK universities.
According to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the body which surveys leading higher education facilities for research quality, the University of Birmingham achieves 81% 3* (excellent) or 4* (world leading) research. 87% of all research completed at UoB also has a global impact, according to a recent survey.
As a part of this, several departments have reached first place in the country in terms of academic quality. These included the departments for History, Philosophy, Classics, Theology and Religion and West African studies. The School of Education ranked one of the best in the UK for its research into autism and race education. The School is also involved in the project to open the University of Birmingham’s school in September 2015.
Research for Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation at UoB was in the top three centres in the UK. Research for Psychology was the 5th top Russell Group University. Overall, the university was ranked 23rd best research institution in the country, up from 31st place in 2013.
The REF collects data from different research facilities within the UK and compares them with international standards of research. The results were published on 18th December, and will determine £2bn from higher education funding bodies will be distributed among different departments within the UK. Despite the results, the University of Birmingham did not make into the BBC’s top ten institutes predicted to receive the largest share of funding based on research quality.
New research is set to continue at Birmingham, with several projects researching combating antibiotic resistance, developing intelligence robots and plans to send water fleas into space to test their reaction to zero gravity.
Chancellor Sir David Eastwood commented: ‘I am delighted that at this midpoint in our ten-year research strategy we have met, and mostly succeeded, the targets we set ourselves and confirmed our place amongst the very best universities across a number of disciplines.’
However, the rankings have suggested that overall, universities within London are among rising stars in terms of research. Some London universities did better than Oxbridge, with UCL beating Cambridge in the number of top research grades being distributed. LSE also had the greatest proportion of research classified as ‘world leading’ within the UK.
However, William Cullerne Brown of Research Fortnight, commented that northern UK universities have performed notably less well in the survey than southern institutions. He notes that Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool have not come out above some leading London universities.
Nevertheless, the survey results place Birmingham among the top 25 research universities in 2014.