Scotland’s universities are performing at a ‘world-leading’ standard in research, a report has indicated.
An assessment by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) found that Scotland’s 18 universities are meeting an ‘internationally excellent’ standard.
The evaluation by the REF is carried out once every five-to-seven years, looking at the quality and impact of UK university research.
In its latest document, published on Thursday, the REF said Scotland had “surpassed” its relative performance to the last exercise, which took place in 2014.
It concluded that around 84% of the research submitted by Scotland’s universities is either ‘world-leading’ or is ‘internationally excellent’ in its quality.
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said that Scotland’s reputation as a “world-leading research nation” is hard-earned.
“The REF is a vital exercise in demonstrating the wide range of world-leading and internationally excellent research that takes place in universities across Scotland,” said Sim.
“This year’s REF shows that Scotland retains its reputation as a world-leading research nation. That status is hard-earned, fiercely competitive and credit must go to universities and their academics across the country.
“Research across Scotland is undertaken to address the challenges facing our society as well as problems faced globally: from breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer and dementia to solutions that address the climate emergency; our researchers are solving real world problems.”
Karen Watt, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, described the results as a “huge achievement”.
“Today’s results underline the strength of university research in Scotland and reinforce the global reputation of our world-leading institutions,” she said.
“With almost 90% of Scottish university research being judged to have outstanding or very considerable impact, we can clearly see the real benefits that public investment is having on people’s day-to-day lives.
“This is a huge achievement and I would like to pay tribute to every member of staff who has contributed to this robust process and to all those who continue to make such a huge contribution to addressing the societal challenges we collectively face.”
Further education minister Jamie Hepburn also welcomed the results.
“Today’s REF2021 results highlight the excellent research being carried out in our institutions and confirms Scotland’s position as a world-leading research nation,” he added.
“They also demonstrate the impact of Scottish research across all disciplines, which is something we should be rightly proud of.”