Success for Stirling as it moves into top 50 universities in the UK

18 December 2014

The University of Stirling has been ranked among the top 50 research-intensive universities in the UK, in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Stirling’s results, which position it as 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK, demonstrate it has more than doubled its levels of world-leading research since 2008, with almost three quarters of research activity being rated as either internationally excellent or world-leading.

This included an outstanding performance in the Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science category, with Stirling ranked 4th in the UK for its research.

Stirling was also placed 1st in Scotland and 12th in the UK for Health Sciences.

There was success for the University’s Psychology research which was ranked 3rd in Scotland and 18th in the UK, while a strong performance in Social Work and Social Policy moved Stirling to 17th place in the UK.

Stirling also secured a coveted place among the UK’s top 25 institutions for Business and Management, out of 101 business schools in the UK.

Professor Gerry McCormac, University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “The results of the University’s performance in the REF2014 are outstanding, with Stirling enhancing its position as one of the top research-led universities.

“Comparing our 2008 profile with the REF2014 results charts our remarkable progress: we’ve moved up the rankings 11 places and the volume of our research classified as world-leading has more than doubled.  

“Our success in the REF2014 is tied to our strategic plan.  This strategy, which included substantial investment in outstanding early career researchers, has led to a step change in our academic community - enhancing our scholarly environment and enabling our academics to produce the highest-quality research.”

He added: “Our performance can also be attributed to the huge amount of effort and commitment from staff across all Schools and Directorates.  In celebrating these excellent results, we can look with pride at what we have achieved and with a keen sense of momentum for the future.”

A new component of the REF2014 assessment process, ‘Impact’, was introduced to evaluate the impact of universities’ research outside academia – including change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy, services, health, the environment or quality of life. 

Stirling’s score for Impact was particularly strong in Psychology, in which 100% of Impact case studies were classed as world-leading. In both the History and Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science categories, 100% of research Impact was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Professor Edmund Burke, Senior Deputy Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “Our Impact performance demonstrates how Stirling researchers are making a major contribution to society and addressing key global challenges.

“Our Impact success covers a wide breadth of disciplines.  This exemplifies how important our research is to society across a multitude of contexts and its relevance to communities all over the world.

Alan Simpson, Chairman of the University Court said: “I am delighted the world class research at Stirling has been so highly recognised in the REF2014.

“With almost three quarters of our research graded as world leading or internationally excellent, these results reflect the enormous progress the University has made and are testament to the dedicated efforts of staff across the institution.  Our success will ensure our research continues to make a positive difference in the world.”

He added: “Stirling has moved up significantly in the rankings, to 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK - confirming our position as a premier university.”

A selection of the University’s Impact case studies can be viewed on the University REF2014 website

Learn more about our REF2104 success

Karen McIntosh
Public Relations Officer
01786 46 7058
pr@stir.ac.uk 

Background information

Methodology

The results presented are based on the methodology used by Times Higher Education for the 2008 RAE 

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.

The four UK funding bodies are: the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and Department for Education, Northern Ireland.

REF2014 key facts 

154 UK universities took part. They made 1,911 submissions for:

  • 52,077 academic staff
  • 191,232 research outputs
  • 6,975 Impact case studies. 

36 expert sub-panels reviewed the submissions, overseen by four main panels.

Around £2 billion per year of research funding will be allocated on the basis of the results.

Further information is available on the REF website.

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