A third of university research in Wales 'world class'

Laboratory work Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The findings of the 2014 research exercise will be used by to allocate research funding to universities

Nearly a third of the research by Welsh universities is of "world-leading" quality, says the body which compares work by every university in the UK.

The finding by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) has been called "a cross between the Olympics, the X Factor and a visit from Father Christmas" for academics.

Wales does slightly better than the UK as a whole in the two top categories.

The latest results improve on 2008, but are measured slightly differently.

Eight institutions in Wales plus the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, made a total of 102 submissions to the exercise, which covered 1,896 members of staff.

It measured the quality of the research, its impact and the quality of the environment in which the research was undertaken.

Cardiff University has calculated that it is now ranked 5th in the UK for the quality of its research, claiming it has now broken into the "golden triangle" of Oxford, Cambridge and London, and confirmed its place as a world-leading university.

The outcomes will be used to allocate research funding to universities from the 2015/16 academic year.

The four UK higher education funding bodies allocate some £2bn per year of research funding to UK universities, based on the quality and volume of each university's research.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) will hand out £71m to universities in Wales, with tens of millions of pounds of other research funding up for grabs in individual grants for which institutions must bid.

In 2012/13 this was £46.65m for universities based in Wales.

Image copyright BBC/GETTY


However, there have been concerns about how much money will be made available for research in future.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe outcomes will be used to allocate research funding to universities from the 2015/16 academic year

HEFCW chief executive Dr David Blaney told BBC Wales: "It's clearly the case that we have a challenge to sustain the investment in research in Wales.

"One of the potential benefits of the outcomes today is it helps to make the case to government in Wales about the importance of investing in the research base.

"We're the single largest investors in research in Wales and as these results show, half of that research in Wales is world-leading in its impact.

"So that's making a huge difference to the lives of people in Wales and beyond."

A Welsh government spokesperson commented said the findings showed Welsh universities were now rightly recognised as leaders in their fields, not only in the UK, but across the globe.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites