UCL Annual Review


World-leading academic excellence

At UCL we create an atmosphere where intellectual innovation thrives. We pursue new avenues of research driven by the curiosity and commitment of our academics in their fields. Our world-leading reputation is built on this foundation of attracting the best minds, enabling careers to flourish through outstanding programmes that support and nurture talent, and roles that challenge and inspire. Through these activities we create the perfect conditions for cross-disciplinary collaboration and research that changes the world for the better.

UCL comes second in the UK for research power 

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UCL came second in the UK for research power in 2021’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) by a measure of average research score multiplied by staff numbers submitted. For this, 93 per cent of our research was graded 4* ‘world leading’ and 3* ‘internationally excellent’. Our research received a 'grade point average' of 3.50 (out of 4) – an improvement from 3.22 in 2014. A total of 3,432 UCL academics submitted to the REF process. 

UCL came second in research power only to Oxford (1st) and we maintained our position as top in the UK for research power in medicine, health and life sciences as well as social sciences. Other UK leaders in research power include Cambridge (3rd), Edinburgh (4th), and Manchester (5th). 

The REF is carried out approximately every six to seven years by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, to assess the quality of research across 157 UK universities and to share how this research benefits society both in the UK and globally. 

The results are significant for benchmarking research excellence across UK institutions and are used to inform the allocation of around £2billion of public investment in research every year. This Quality Related (QR) funding enables us to invest in the best people and facilities, to provide an environment in which early career researchers can thrive and work with our partners to address the biggest challenges facing humanity. 

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UCL East: Minister for Disabled People opens transformative assistive technology research lab

A group of staff from the UCL GDI Hub stand, with UK Minister for Disabled People Tom Pursglove, next to some large orange letters that spell out 'UCL'.
December 2022 saw the UK’s Minister for Disabled People, Tom Pursglove, officially open UCL’s Global Disability Innovation Hub (UCL GDI Hub) at the heart of the new UCL East campus on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford in east London. 

UCL GDI Hub is the World Health Organisation’s first Global Collaborating Centre on Assistive Technology (AT). The new facility will supercharge UCL GDI Hub’s work in the UK and internationally to create a fairer world for the estimated 1.2 billion people with disabilities. The hub will provide the facilities for partnership-working and aims to produce new technologies, designs and processes to support disabled individuals in society. 

The hub is based at One Pool Street, the first building on the UCL East campus, which opened its doors in the Autumn of 2022 to around 500 postgraduate students in robotics, ecology and big data, global health, assistive technology, urbanism, heritage and the internet of things. 

One Pool Street, just along the river from the London Aquatics Centre, will be joined in 2023 by a larger building opposite called Marshgate, standing beside the London Stadium and giant ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture. 

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IOE120: Celebrating 120 years of transforming lives and society 

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2022 marked the 120th anniversary of the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. Over the course of the year, the IOE120 campaign delved into the history of its wide-ranging and pioneering work across education, culture, psychology, and social science and explored how it has contributed to changes in individuals’ lives and society throughout its 120-year history.  

The campaign covered events and shared a variety of content (videos, podcasts, blogs, stories) inviting the community to join in the celebrations and connect with staff, students, alumni, partners and friends.  

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UCL academics honoured with Leverhulme prizes for Archaeology and Economics 

Shown on the left: Professor Daniel Wilhelm (UCL Economics); on the right, Dr Corisande Fenwick (UCL Archaeology)
Two UCL researchers, both based in UCL Social & Historical Sciences, have been awarded prestigious 2022 Philip Leverhulme Prizes worth £100,000 for their internationally recognised work in archaeology and economics. 

Each year, the Leverhulme Trust gives out 30 such prizes to exceptional researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future careers are extremely promising. The Trust offers 5 prizes in each of the following subject areas, which change every year: Archaeology, Chemistry, Economics, Engineering, Geography, and Languages and Literatures. 

Dr Corisande Fenwick’s (UCL Archaeology) new project will focus on empire and state formation, agriculture, technology, and Islamic and late antique archaeology. The development of new statistical methods for studying the causes of intergenerational mobility and economic inequality will be the focus for Professor Daniel Wilhelm's (UCL Economics) project.  

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UCL spinout commercialises gene therapy research to progress new treatments for haemophilia B 

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UCL spinout Freeline Therapeutics is taking ground-breaking gene research from UCL, with the aim of developing it into a potentially life-changing treatment for people with haemophilia B. 

Haemophilia B is a rare and inherited bleeding disorder caused by low levels of the protein factor IX (FIX) which is found in blood and needed for forming clots. In order to combat the disorder patients currently must inject themselves with FIX, to prevent excessive bleeding.  

Despite advances in the treatment of Haemophilia B, many patients experience debilitating joint damage due to bleeding, and the disease can have a serious adverse impact on their lives. Now, with the help of research developed at UCL, Freeline Therapeutics gene therapy could mean haemophiliac patients may only need a single treatment to alter their FIX levels, ultimately removing the need for regular injections.  

The spinout is now developing three gene therapy candidates to transform the research developed into life-changing results.  

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  • Professor Daniel Wilhelm courtesy of UCL Economics; Dr Corisande Fenwick courtesy of UCL Archaeology

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