The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s periodic research assessment exercise which measures the quality of research output, impact and environment in UK universities.

The outcomes of the exercise produce reputational benchmarks (submissions are assessed at one of four star levels from 1* to 4* representing respectively research of nationally recognised through to world-leading quality) and determine institutional research funding allocations.

The REF2014 confirmed the internationally excellent quality, reach and significance of our research and impact, which builds on our historic heritage of excellence in research, practice and innovation.

With a broadly based submission in 13 subject areas ranging from health to art and design, and results that evidence world-leading and internationally excellent research and impact, the REF2014 outcomes demonstrate the breadth, depth and quality of our portfolio.

Rating 90% of our research and 75% of our impact as of world-leading, internationally excellent or internationally recognised quality, the exercise underlines our major contribution to high quality research, innovation and impact. And it’s a growing contribution, too – as our 2014 success built on strong performance in the 2008 exercise with an increase in the level of high quality research. 

The REF confirmed our world-leading (4*) positions in Art and Design and Media and Communication, with internationally excellent (3*) performances in English, Architecture and Built Environment and Allied Health. All 5 of these areas achieved ratings of 3* or 4* for some two-thirds of their research activity. In Psychology and Neuroscience, Politics, Area Studies, and Law, the majority of submitted research achieved ratings of international excellence.

The assessment also confirmed the excellent impact of our research outside academia. An impressive 100% of our research in Art and Design, Media and Communications, Allied health, and Psychology and Neuroscience was considered to be of world-leading and internationally excellent quality in terms of the reach and significance of its impact. 

As we look towards the next Research Excellence Framework submission, our REF2014 performance confirms we have a distinctive place aligning research and practice. Impact is part of our heritage and DNA, with 175 years of pioneering applied research, stemming from our foundation by the celebrated Victorian engineer Sir George Cayley in 1838, the University of Westminster’s research today is at the forefront of making sense of critical contemporary economic, societal and scientific issues. By aligning research and practice, the University of Westminster’s researchers are enabling further understanding of current themes and debates as well as driving discoveries to improve the world we live in.