University of Leeds research delivers real world impact 

Results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 identified that more than 90% of University of Leeds research has an overall quality rating of “world leading” or “internationally excellent”.

REF 2021 results. May 2022

These results further affirm the impact of the research taking place at Leeds and how it aligns with the University’s strategic objectives to drive down inequalities and build a Fairer future for all

The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions – including publications, performances and exhibitions – and their impact on the economy, public policy, civil society or culture, along with the environment that supports research. 

REF 2021 positions Leeds as one of the UK’s top universities for research and impact power. The results show that the quality of our research is above the higher education sector average.

University of Leeds REF 2021 results are available on our dedicated REF 2021 website.

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor, said: “The University is a values-driven organisation that works with academic, governmental, industrial and third sector partners to deliver world-changing research and create a Fairer future for all. 

“That is why it is so encouraging that the REF 2021 results show we continue to provide research that is shaping the world around us for the better. 

“The results are a testament to the hard work of our researchers, professional services staff and Unit of Assessment leads. I thank everyone who was involved in this monumental effort.” 

The University submitted research to REF 2021 spanning the arts and humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, business, biological and environmental sciences, engineering, medicine and health.

Research submitted to REF was broken down into 34 disciplinary units, known as Units of Assessment, and assessed by expert panels. Leeds submitted more than 120 unique case studies as part of 28 returns to 27 of the Units of Assessment. 

The REF 2021 results show that the University’s overall profile for 16 of the Units of Assessment was more than 90% “world leading” or “internationally excellent”.

The full Units of Assessment results, along with selected examples of the case studies submitted, are available on the REF 2021 website.

The outcome of the REF informs the allocation of quality-research (QR) related funding. It contributes to the accountability for public funding and demonstrates the benefits of public investment in research and impact.

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “This is a great opportunity to celebrate our achievements in both fundamental and solutions-focused research, and how we continue to collaborate internally and with our external partners to deliver research and innovation that will inspire and aid future generations.

“Our strategy – Universal Values, Global Change – and supporting plans establish how we will further develop and support our wonderful staff, positioning them to achieve further success and harness our research expertise and education to shape a better future.”

Read more

In a new Inside Track feature, Professors Simone Buitendijk and Nick Plant pause to reflect on the real successes of our REF results – the positive and inclusive research culture that we’re focused on building at Leeds and how well this supports our strategic objectives to drive down inequalities and build a Fairer future for all.

Further information 

Due to COVID-19, the results announcement was delayed, which is why the exercise is badged as REF 2021. 

A major review of REF took place in 2015, resulting in a number of changes to the methodology for submitting and assessing REF 2021. Because of this, it is difficult to draw comparisons to the REF 2014 results. 

The sector results and additional information about REF can be found on the REF website

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