Research

BNU improves performance in latest Research Excellence Framework

Buckinghamshire New University has improved its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF), the process which measures the quality and impact of research in UK universities.

Reflecting several years of university-wide activity, today’s REF 2021 results reveal that 44% of BNU research was judged to be of world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) quality, based on the six subject-based units of assessment (UOA) we submitted.

Of those UOAs, at least half of our research in the following areas was of world-leading or internationally excellent quality: Art and Design, History, Practice and Theory (60%); Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism (58%); and Social Work and Social Policy (50%).

Social Work and Social Policy was one of three new promising UOAs we submitted, in addition to Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (49%), and Education (17%). Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy (49%) also performed well.

REF judgements are based on three factors: the quality of the research outputs; the impact of the research; and the research environment of the university.

For BNU, our research output quality at 3* or 4* was the highest in UOAs in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism (75%) and Social Work and Social Policy (67%). For impact, our UOAs in Art and Design, History, Practice and Theory (100%) and Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (75%) UOAs excelled.

All results are available on the REF website www.ref.ac.uk. They show an improvement on our 2014 performance, a proud achievement that can partly be attributed to the following sustained and targeted measures over recent years that have boosted our research capabilities:

  • Created a new Graduate School offering a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil).
  • Funding to support staff research dissemination at external conferences.
  • Seed funding through the strategic priorities/policy support fund.
  • Created a Vice-Chancellor’s PhD Studentship Award, offering two per year.
  • Established the Bucks Academic Framework, incorporating recognition of research.
  • Early career researcher training for staff.

Professor Nick Braisby, Vice-Chancellor of BNU, commented: “Today’s REF results show a notable improvement in our research activity. In the quality and impact of our research, we continue to punch above our weight, and in some units of assessment, we compare favourably with institutions that have a much larger concentration of research activity. I am enormously proud of our thriving research culture that delivers real impact to local, national and global communities.

“Thank you to everyone who continues to drive our research activity forwards, especially those academics whose work has been recognised by REF. We will build on our successes in the coming years by increasing the quality and spread of research activity, and ensuring that research and innovation continues to beneficially impact society and underpin our educational offer.”

I am enormously proud of our thriving research culture that delivers real impact to local, national and global communities.
Professor Nick Braisby Vice-Chancellor
A top half shot of Professor Nick Braisby wearing a black suit stood against a purple background