Our REF 2021 Submission

The University of Suffolk is proud to have made a first submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2021 and to have received an outstanding outcome.

The newly published REF 2021 results indicate that the University produces world-leading and internationally excellent research, as measured by the latest REF assessment.

The REF evaluates both the quality and impact of research at UK universities to provide an independent confirmation of the strength of the University’s research and how it makes a real difference nationally and internationally.

The outcome of the University of Suffolk’s submission to REF 2021 is a tremendous achievement for the University given that it relatively recently gained independence as a university in 2016.

The University made its first REF submission in Social Work and Social Policy (UoA 20). Twelve per cent of the University’s research outputs were rated as 4* quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigour and 56% as 3* which are of a quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance, and rigour.

This is an outstanding result for the University to be recognised officially as having research outputs that are both world-leading and internationally excellent. Overall, the University’s research impact was rated at 3* as having considerable impact in terms of both reach and significance.

This outcome provides a firm foundation for the University’s ambitious plans to further develop its research agenda and culture in the next five years.  

Since the 2021 submission, the University has invested well over a £1M to transform its research environment and infrastructure to lay the foundations for a significant submission into the next REF exercise.

The University has already achieved impressive research distinctions and impact in Social Work and Social Policy; Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care; Environmental Sciences; Computer Science; and Sport and Exercise Science.   

Professor Helen Langton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Suffolk said: “We are delighted with the outcome of REF 2021. These excellent results evidence the University’s efforts to deliver on its vision of transforming lives locally, nationally and globally and the impact of our research is vital to our success in meeting that goal. Our rapidly growing trajectory of attracting research funding and our developing reputation for outstanding research in line with our research specialisms are reflected in these results which provide significant assurance of our future position as an internationally recognised, high quality research institution.  The impact of our research is clear, benefiting society and the communities we serve with almost 70% per cent of our submissions achieving a rating of world-leading and international excellence.  The Board and I would like to personally thank all colleagues involved for this significant achievement."

The University of Suffolk’s submission for REF 2021 was led by Professor Emma Bond, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research.  All staff who met the REF2021 definitions of having significant responsibility for research and being an independent researcher were submitted to REF2021 although the University of Suffolk were granted exceptions from submission in eight UoAs due to small numbers of FTE in those UoAs.