IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


REF results highlight UCL’s research strength and power in Education

12 May 2022

UCL’s submission to the Education Unit of Assessment (UoA23) has been ranked first for research strength and research power in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, according to the Elsevier REF 2021 Results Analysis Tool.

UCL Portico building and quad, with text overlay reading: Where research transforms education and society

Research power is a measure that takes into consideration both the quality and size of a submission. Research strength is a measure of ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ research activity and size.

The REF is carried out approximately every six to seven years to assess the quality of research across 157 UK universities and to share how this research benefits society both in the UK and globally.

UCL’s REF submission to the Education Unit of Assessment was the largest in the UK and three times bigger than the second largest submission (based on FTE of staff submitted). The submission included 793 outputs from 353 staff, a 45% increase in size from the 2014 submission.

92.3% of our impact was rated 4*, achieving outstanding impacts in terms of reach and significance, and 7.7% was rated 3*.

These results reflect the passion and commitment of IOE’s researchers whose world-leading contribution to research on education and society and the outstanding impact of that work is recognised here. As we mark the 120th year of IOE, we celebrate the vitality of IOE’s research environment and the breadth and diversity of IOE research which underpins our impact and success.” - Professor Li Wei, Director and Dean of IOE.

The submission consisted of outputs focused on diverse areas and stages of education, through national and international lenses, that drew on and contributed to a range of disciplines including applied humanities, communications science, computer science, economics, history, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, public health, social policy, and sociology.

Our Environment Statement received the highest possible rating (100% 4*), recognising the vitality and sustainability of our environment that produces research of world-leading quality and enables outstanding impact.  

The REF results are a testament to the dedication and hard work of the IOE community of researchers and professional services staff. Moving forwards we will continue to enhance our research environment and build on our research excellence and impact to make a difference to society as a whole.” - Professor Lynn Ang, Pro-Director and Vice-Dean Research of IOE.

UCL came second in the UK for research power by a measure of average research score multiplied by staff numbers submitted. For this, 93 per cent of UCL’s research was graded 4* ‘world leading’ and 3* ‘internationally excellent’. UCL 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 this REF process.

The REF results are significant for benchmarking research excellence across UK institutions and are used by the four UK higher education funding bodies 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.