The results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) have been released

By City Press Office, Published

City, University of London has been recognised for producing world leading and internationally excellent research that has a major impact on society, policy and the economy.

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, which assesses research quality at UK higher education institutions, confirm City’s position as world-leading university with an international reputation for research excellence.

The results show that 86 per cent of City’s submission to the REF was rated as being of world leading (4*) and internationally excellent (3*) quality. This is an increase of ten per cent from the last REF in 2014 and 35 per cent since the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008. The results demonstrate a continued and significant improvement in City’s research standing.

City submitted 1,186 academic outputs (such as journal articles) and 47 impact case studies from 536 staff (496 FTE) across 13 Units of Assessment (UoA) to REF 2021.

Other highlights include:

  • City is 39thin the UK out of 129 universities according to the Times Higher Education rankings. This is an improvement of 12 places since REF 2014.
  • City is 44th out of all 156 submissions with an improvement of 16 places since REF 2014.
  • The proportion of City’s research rated world–leading (4*) has almost doubled to 40 per cent in REF 2021 (from 23% in 2014).
  • City is 30thin terms of GPA for the Outputs profileout of 129 universities, which is an increase of 18 places since REF 2014 (excluding specialist institutions).
  • City’s institutional Grade Point Average (GPA) has improved by +0.30 to 3.25 (from 2.95 in 2014). All individual Units of Assessment (UoA) improved their overall GPA compared to 2014.
  • There were especially strong performances in Allied Health Professions, Business & Management, Sociology, and Music, as well as significant improvements across many other Units of Assessment.

The REF assesses the strength of research quality across UK HEIs and measures three components: Outputs (60 per cent); Impact (25 per cent); Environment (15 per cent). They are aggregated to form the overall ‘quality profile’.

A vital element of REF is illustrating the benefits research delivers beyond academia, including how it brings tangible changes to people’s lives and the public value it delivers.

Universities receive a Quality Research (QR) grant from Research England based on the REF outcome which is fundamental in maintaining and developing institutional research infrastructure, supporting researchers, and investing in research activity.

Professor Miguel Mera, Vice-President for Research at City said the results showed City’s significant contribution to world-leading and internationally excellent research.

“I am delighted with today’s results which show a significant improvement in our research standing since 2014, recognising the value of the work we have done to invest in our research capabilities.

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to all colleagues involved, both the researchers whose work has been recognised and the many staff in professional services teams for the preparation which went into our submission.

“We can look to the future with optimism. We have reinforced and strengthened our position and are now well positioned to be ambitious in achieving even better results in the future.”

Professor Sir Anthony Finkelstein, President, City, University of London said:

“City has done well in the REF and our staff can be very proud of their achievements.  These results showcase excellent research – firmly rooted in our mission to be a University focused on business, practice and the professions. I thank my talented colleagues for their hard work and determination.”

Find out more

Today, we are launching a dedicated Research in Focus microsite, which includes an overview of City’s research, a snapshot of our REF results and videos and articles about research projects and their impact on the world. You can find out more about our world-leading and internationally excellent research by visiting the microsite and watching our ‘Research in Focus’ video.

The full dataset of REF 2021 results can be found here. City's results are also available to view on the Research pages of our website.

REF 2021 definitions

REF assessments are a process of peer review, carried out by an expert sub-panel in each Unit of Assessment. Every element submitted to the REF will be graded on a scale from 4* (world leading) to unclassified (did not meet the REF criteria).

REF 2021 consists of three main elements:

Outputs - This makes up 60 per cent of the assessment and consists of research outputs produced by the University during the assessment period (1st January 2014 to 31st December 2020).

Impact -  This makes up 25 per cent of the assessment and consists of case studies detailing the benefits from our research.

Environment - This makes up the remaining 15 per cent of the assessment and describes the vitality and sustainability of the environment we have to support our research, including strategy, staff development, infrastructure, and collaboration.

Grade Point Average (GPA) - The grades that awarded for each of these elements contributes to an overall grade point average (GPA). There is a GPA for each UoA and one for the University as a whole. The GPA is out of 4. These GPAs are then used for calculating the amount of QR funding the University receives and by a number of league tables.

Note: Rankings and change in position may vary slightly compared to figures published in external publications. Whilst publications may base rankings and movement on rounded scores, all figures on City’s REF dashboards are based on unrounded data for both REF 2021 and REF 2014.