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Swedish Research Council Seek To Learn From University of Ulster


The University of Ulster will have major input in helping Sweden develop a way of assessing research carried out in the country’s institutes of higher education.

A delegation from the Swedish Research Council (SRC) today visited the Jordanstown campus to witness the groundbreaking work carried out by Ulster’s pioneering research institutes.

The visitors also met with University experts to learn more about assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

The University of Ulster is the only higher education institution outside southern England to host the Swedish delegation during their two-week study visit to the UK.

Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Hugh McKenna said: “The UK for many years has had a mechanism to assess the research coming out of universities, the results of which inform the government on how to distribute public funds for research.

“The Swedish Government is very keen to establish a model that may have similarities with the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), which was formerly called, the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and which is carried out every five to six years.

“The University of Ulster has a total of 15 research institutes across its six faculties.

“In the last Research Assessment Exercise in the UK in 2008, Ulster was the only university in Northern Ireland to have three research areas which were in the top three of UK universities in their subjects – in biomedical sciences, nursing and Celtic studies.

“By speaking to research staff, the delegation will learn how we manage the REF process, how we ensure equality and diversity in selecting staff and how we have been so successful in certain areas.

“They will also want to speak to the research institute directors about how they ensure the very best return and the very best submissions.”

Sten Soderberg, a senior analyst with the SRC said: “Our visit to the University of Ulster has been incredibly useful and informative.

“We have been very impressed by the calibre of research being carried out and also with the way that the University and its staff engage with the REF.

“We have been very inspired by our visit, the research facilities and performance of the University of Ulster and look forward to further close relationships in the future.”

Professor McKenna added: “The visit by the Swedish Research Council is a great endorsement of the quality of the research being carried out at Ulster and the international regard in which our research institutes are held. We are always delighted to share our expertise with other countries.”

CAPTION: Professor Richard Barnett, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ulster, Professor Bernie Hannigan, School of Biomedical Sciences, John Tumpane and Sten Soderberg, Swedish Research Council and Professor Hugh McKenna, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation)