press release
Published: 12 May 2022

University of Surrey celebrates research excellence accolades in UK rankings 

The University of Surrey is today celebrating independent assessment of the excellence of its research and innovation work, with the University moving up 12 places to 33rd in the UK rankings for overall research quality.

The rankings draw on the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF2021) – published today after a pandemic delay – with 41% of Surrey’s research rated as world-leading, the highest possible rating, up from 22% when REF last took place in 2014. The University is now also ranked in the top 20 in the UK for the overall quality of research outputs – research papers and other published works.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for independently assessing the quality of research in higher education institutions. It is an enormous exercise and is only published every five to seven years. It has a direct impact on the allocation of future government research funding.

Highlights from the University of Surrey’s REF 2021 results include:

  • Rated in the top 20 for the quality of our research outputs
  • 6th for research power – the quality and scale of the University’s health research
  • 15th for research power – the quality and scale of the University’s engineering research
  • 10th for the quality and 6th for the real-world impact of our economics research.

Explore examples of the submissions that contributed to the University of Surrey’s results.

The results of the REF are great news for the University of Surrey and the county more widely. Having a world-leading, global research university at the heart of our community means we are ideally placed to welcome new investment, and innovative businesses and start-ups, bringing with them high-skilled jobs and driving economic growth. With the University leading the way in so many areas, Surrey’s global reputation as an outstanding place to live, work and visit is vital in helping us lead the economic recovery and in ensuring that no one is left behind. Councillor Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council

About REF

More detail on the full UK REF results can be found on the REF 2021 website. The four UK higher education funding bodies allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities. They aim to support a dynamic and internationally competitive UK research sector that makes a major contribution to economic prosperity, national wellbeing and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge.

To distribute funds selectively on the basis of quality, the funding bodies assess universities’ research through a periodic exercise - previously known as RAE now REF. The REF was last conducted in 2014, and now again in 2021, the results will be used to allocate research funding from 2022-23.

Notes to editors

Professor David Sampson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation at the University of Surrey, is available for interview.

About the University of Surrey

The University of Surrey is a research-intensive university, producing world-leading research that transforms lives and changes the world for the better. Challenges the University’s research capabilities focus on include sustainability; ensuring artificial intelligence is not just technically pushing boundaries, but remains people-centred in the way it operates, develops and is governed; and pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the ways human and animal health overlap, interact and share common problems and solutions – within a ‘One Health, One Medicine’ research approach. Surrey also demonstrates established research excellence in space technologies, telecommunications (5G and now 6G) and hospitality and tourism.

A focus on research that makes a difference to the world has contributed to Surrey being ranked 55th in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings 2022, which assesses more than 1,400 universities' performance against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Media Contacts

Georgie Gould
Media Officer (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)

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