The University of Worcester is the Most Improved in the UK for Research

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The University of Worcester is the most improved in the UK for research after climbing 32 places in the independently audited Research Excellence Framework rankings.

World-leading research at Worcester has increased a remarkable 18 fold with the total amount of work recognised as being worthy of receiving government funding increasing 15 fold.

Researchers at Worcester have been recognised as carrying out world-leading work in History, Art and Design, Health, Education, Biological Science, Psychology, Sport, Geography and English. There is also internationally excellent work in all these areas and in Business and Management and Drama and the Performing Arts. The last time the exercise was carried out, in 2008, research at Worcester was rated world-leading in just one subject area – English – and then just 5% of the work in English.

This huge quality improvement has been paralleled by a massive jump in the number of University of Worcester staff carrying out such research work, with 112 submitted to the 2014 exercise compared to just 25 in 2008.

Some of the research conducted at the University of Worcester has already had a major impact – such as the work on how to care better for people living with dementia. The work Worcester researchers have made in bringing history to life in such areas as Remembrance has also been recognised by the REF 2014 assessment, as has the huge impact of the work in children’s illustration and art and design generally.

Commenting on the results, Professor David Green, the University of Worcester’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, said: “The wonderful staff at the University of Worcester are deeply committed to making a positive difference to our region and the wider world. Research carried out in areas from tackling the obesity epidemic to how to stimulate children’s imaginations through art and illustration is having a growing impact for the good. The huge increases in the quality, quantity and range of the research work carried out at the University, despite shoestring government funding over the past 12 years, are a tribute to all the individual researchers involved.

“These results today confirm that the University is now having a more positive, significant impact than ever. This impact, which aims to be truly inclusive, is symbolised by the Hive, the country’s first University and Public Library and the University of Worcester Arena, the first purpose designed Arena in Britain to include wheelchair athletes.”

The University has climbed 32 places, up from 145 to 113, in the rankings compiled by Research Fortnight:

 2014 Power Rank  2008 Power Rank  Change in Rank  University
 113  145  32  Worcester
 52  81  29  Northumbria
 69  97  28  Huddersfield
 96  122  26  Edge Hill
 86  108  22  Bedfordshire
 121  141  20  R Cent Sch of Speech & Drama
 109  124  15  Liverpool Hope
 62  76  14  Liverpool John Moores
 95  109  14  Canterbury Christ Church
 101  115  14  Courtauld Inst of Art
 132  146  14  Heythrop College

The research is judged on five standards, the highest being 4* (world-leading); 3* (internationally excellent); 2* (internationally recognised); 1* (nationally recognised); or unclassified.

In History, 56% of the University’s submitted research was classed as being 4* or 3*, world-leading or internationally excellent, and when 2* was added that figure rose to 84%. This included work by Professor Maggie Andrews on the changing culture of remembrance, and work by Professor Suzanne Schwarz on the history and heritage of Sierra Leone.

In Art and Design, 41% of Worcester’s research was judged as world-leading or excellent (with 79% 2* or above), which included work on children’s illustration; while in Biological Sciences that figure was 39% (or 83% when 2* was factored in). Biological Sciences includes the work of the University’s National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, which produces all of the pollen forecasts for the UK.

Sport was found to have 86% of research as internationally recognised (2*) or above, with 36% of that at 3* and 4*. Meanwhile, English scored 84% at 2* and above (34% of which at 3* or 4*), Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts scored 80% at 2* and above (33% of which was at 3* or 4*) and health research scoring 75% at 2* or above (31% of which at 3* or 4*). The University’s work in health includes its huge contribution to improving the lives of people living with dementia.

In Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology, 78% of research was rated as internationally recognised (2*) or above, with 27% of that at 3* and 4*. This included work on sustaining wetlands in Africa.

In Psychology, 69% of research was rated as internationally recognised (2*) or above, with 35% of that at 3* and 4*. This included work to tackle the growing obesity problem, through the evaluation of two NHS projects.

In addition, Business and Management was found to have 56% of research as internationally recognised (2*) or above, and Education scored 50% at 2* or above.