Jump to navigation Jump to content

Research rankings confirm Edinburgh as world leader


Edinburgh’s position as one of the UK’s leading research universities has been reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Universities are evaluated on the standard of their research, the environment in which it is conducted, and the positive impact it has on the world.

Overall, the University of Edinburgh has been ranked fourth in the UK based on the quality and breadth of its research, known as research power, and is Scotland’s top-ranked institution, by combining the Times Higher Education’s ratings for both.

The University of Edinburgh’s submission to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework exercise was among the largest and most comprehensive in the UK. Around 2,800 individuals – all of the University’s academic independent researcher workforce – had their research assessed.

Collaboration with other institutions and partners is key to the global success of Edinburgh’s research. The REF submission featured joint publications and projects with colleagues in 115 countries.

Three quarters of the research areas in which Edinburgh was assessed – 21 disciplines out of 28 – were judged to be in the top five in the UK.

Nearly 90 per cent of the University’s research activity is assessed as being in the highest categories of 4 star – classified as world-leading – or 3 star – internationally excellent.

“This excellent result reflects the talent and commitment of all who contribute to creating and upholding a world-class, creative, collaborative research environment. I am incredibly grateful to everyone involved in enabling us to maintain our leading position in research in agriculture, food and veterinary sciences.”

Professor David Argyle, Head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Acting Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

“This fantastic result is a testament to the talent, ingenuity and sheer hard work of our staff. It shows that our world-class research is playing its part in making the world a better place in a way that few places – with a combination of the brightest minds, the most cutting-edge facilities, powerful partnerships, and a commitment to tackling sticky problems from all angles – can do in the way that Edinburgh can.

“This success is shared with our industrial, charity and philanthropic supporters with whom we have collaborated to maximise the impact of our work locally and globally.”

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is made up of three colleges (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences; Science and Engineering; Medicine and Veterinary Medicine) and within these three colleges, there are 20 academic schools delivering research with extensive regional, national and global impact.

Professor Stuart Forbes, Director, Institute for Regeneration and Repair and Centre for Regenerative Medicine, shared the following summary within Clinical Medicine:

  • 100% of the case studies submitted were awarded a 4 star or 3 star score for impact which means ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ research status.
  • For output, Clinical Medicine was awarded 4 star and 3 star status for 91% of the research papers submitted.
  • Clinical Medicine achieved a 75% 4 star score for environment, this means the context research takes place in.

Professor Siddharthan Chandran, Dean of Clinical Medicine, Head of Edinburgh Medical School, Director of Edinburgh Neuroscience, Euan MacDonald Centre and Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, shared the following summary within Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience:

  • 100% of the case studies submitted were awarded 4 star for impact, which means world-leading research status.
  • For output, Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience was awarded 4 star and 3 star status for 90% of the research papers submitted.
  • UoA4 achieved a 100% 4 star score on environment, this means the context research takes place in.

The UK Research Excellence Framework results affirm outstanding research environment and impact on society.

The results show Edinburgh to be in a strong position to continue to apply its research power in addressing significant issues, such as recovering from Covid-19 and preparing for future pandemics, adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change, and ensuring data is working for the good of societies.

The outcomes reinforce Edinburgh’s position as one of the world’s top universities, building on its current position of 16th in the QS rankings of the top universities globally and illustrates the benefits to students of studying in the University’s world-class research-led teaching environment.