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Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 provides accountability for public investment in research. It demonstrates its benefits, and provides important reputational yardsticks and benchmarking information about the research performance of UK universities. This informs the selective allocation of funding for research.

REF 2021 is the UK’s system for assessing the excellence of research in higher education providers. The outcomes are used to inform the allocation of around £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research. 30 years ago, the UK was the first country to assess the quality of university research. Today, the UK is still seen as a leader in this area.

REF was first carried out in 2014, replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise. Research England manages the REF on behalf of all the four UK higher education funding bodies. The funding bodies’ shared policy aim for research assessment is to maintain a world-class, dynamic and responsive research environment across all higher education providers.

NTU submitted a total of 39 impact case studies to the REF 2021. Our impact case studies were highly rated: 86% of our research impact was rated as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' in terms of quality. Our impact case studies demonstrate how research undertaken at NTU has benefitted the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment, and quality of life, beyond academia.

Explore our research submitted to the REF 2021

NTU made submissions to 14 discipline-based Units of Assessment in the REF 2021. The Units of Assessment are subject-based categories of the framework, where each Unit of Assessment is made up of experts who assess submissions consisting of: research outputs, impact case studies and environmental statements. Quality profiles are assigned to each element, and an overall profile is awarded to each submission. These range from world-leading to unclassified. Full details of NTU's submissions to REF 2021 will be available on the REF 2021 website in June 2022.

Discover the impact case studies submitted under each Unit of Assessment by clicking on the boxes below, or explore all of our impact case studies.

Research Excellence Framework 2021 Code of Practice

NTU’s participation in the Research Excellence Framework 2021 is governed by a Code of Practice, covering the below areas. Our Code of Practice has been approved by Research England.

  • Transparency in relation to decision making processes and communication.
  • Consistency through governance and oversight of institutional processes.
  • Accountability in relation to the responsibilities of individuals and committee and/or groups involved in relevant processes.
  • Inclusivity and how it is supported and promoted across areas and within the work of the institution.

Research Excellence Framework 2021 Privacy Notice

This privacy notice is for those providing Nottingham Trent University (NTU) with evidence in support of impact case studies that have been submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2021.

Re:search Re:imagined

To us, research is about more than writing papers and proposing new ideas. By daring to think differently, we’re disrupting the research landscape and finding the answers to the questions that really matter. From social media addiction to sustainable farming, we’re inspiring the brightest minds to rise up and find solutions to some of the most significant global challenges facing society.

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Our research community is committed to delivering innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Sign up for email alerts to follow their progress and to stay connected to the latest research developments and opportunities at NTU.

REF 2014 results

We've built on our REF 2014 results this year, submitting 39 case studies to 14 different Units of Assessment. Of the 14 Units of Assessment to which NTU made submissions in REF 2021, all saw an improvement in overall quality profile from REF 2014. In the REF 2021, 83% of our research activity was classified either as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent', compared with 55% of our research activity in the REF 2014.

In 2014, we had 200 research colleagues involved in our REF submissions. In 2021, we doubled this number and now more than 400 different research colleagues have been involved in our impactful research. Find out more about our REF 2014 results.

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