Research Excellence Framework

The results of the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021, published May 2022), highlight the outstanding quality and impact of Bristol's research across all subjects and disciplines.

Our REF 2021 results

  • 94% of the University's research was assessed as either 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'.
  • 57% of the University's research achieved the top 'world-leading' 4* rating, compared to a sector average of 41%.
  • 37% of Bristol's research was judged to be 'internationally excellent' and received the 3* rating.

This outstanding performance is a result of the immense efforts of the University's staff, not only our researchers but all those who support them on a daily basis.

The Times Higher Education calculated each university's Grade Point Average (GPA) across the four rating categories to compare research quality across 157 UK institutions. On this basis, Bristol was ranked fifth, a rise of six places from 11th when the results of the last REF were published in 2014.

Bristol submitted outputs and impact case studies to 28 REF units of assessment, covering the work of almost 1,500 full-time equivalent members of staff.

About the Research Excellence Framework

The REF is a UK-wide assessment of university research carried out by the four UK higher education funding bodies.

Its aim is to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education.

It will achieve this in the following three ways:

  • By providing accountability for public investment in research and producing evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • By providing benchmarking information and establishing reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE sector and for public information.
  • By informing the selective allocation of funding for research.

REF 2021 submissions included research outputs, examples of the wider impact of research and evidence about the research environment. This material was assessed by a series of expert panels comprising UK and international researchers, external users of research and experts in interdisciplinary research.

The REF provides a robust and thorough assessment of the quality of universities' research in all disciplines, providing accountability for public investment in research and demonstrating the benefits of that investment.

For the first time, the assessment included the submission of all staff with significant responsibility for research, meaning the results provide a unique insight into the quality of research conducted across the sector.

Previous results

The details of Bristol's performance in previous REF and Research Assessment Exercises are available:

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