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REF results show increase in 'world-leading' research at Brunel


The volume of 'world-leading' research carried out at Brunel University London has increased by nearly two thirds (63%) in the past seven years, according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

The REF, an independent assessment of the quality of research at universities across the country, placed 21.1% of Brunel’s submitted work in this top category, up from 14.3% in 2014, the last time the REF was conducted – and with work submitted from a total of 659 researchers, compared to 605 last time.

Overall, 72.7% of Brunel’s submissions were assessed as being world-leading or internationally excellent, an increase from the previous score of 61%.

This confirms Brunel’s position as a top 40 UK research-intensive university.

The assessment, run by Research England and its counterparts in the other UK nations, involved expert panels assessing three key elements of each HEI’s research – outputs, impact and environment – which measure how good published and performed research is, the difference it made to the world, and how vibrant and sustainable their research culture is.

Four areas of study at Brunel – earth systems and environmental sciences; politics and international studies; sociology; and sport and exercise sciences, leisure and tourism – had 100% of their submitted research impact recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent, placing them among the best in the country.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Andrew Jones said: “These results are a reward for the strength and significance of the pioneering research we conduct across Brunel, and of the huge efforts academic staff made in submitting their research for assessment.

“We seek to address society’s most pressing challenges, in collaboration with partners locally and from across the globe, so it is no surprise that so much of our research has been assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.”

The size of Brunel’s submission was the 40th largest in the UK, in the first REF that required HEIs to include all staff who have a significant responsibility for research.

Professor Geoff Rodgers, Vice-Provost (Research), who led Brunel's submission, said: “The size of our submission highlights Brunel’s strong research culture, which ensures that students are taught by leading scholars at the forefront of their fields.

“We were deliberate in choosing a very rigorous selection process, which makes the successes across all three of our colleges even more impressive.

“The ongoing significant impact of our research, recognised in these results, shows the importance of demonstrable public benefit – which we remain extremely good at.” 


For full details of Brunel University London’s performance in the Research Excellence Framework 2021, visit

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 266867