Ulster University has increased its level of 4* world-leading research with 87% of research judged to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.
Key increases in Ulster’s 2021 submission include:
- 44% increase in our world-leading 4* overall research profile
- 53% increase in world-leading 4* research outputs
- 48% increase in world-leading 4* research environment
Research with Impact
Overall, Ulster University has further increased its research positioning in the UK;
- Ulster University now ranks in the Top 10% of UK Universities for outstanding (4*) or very considerable (3*) research impact.
- 97% of Ulster’s research was judged as having ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable impacts’ in terms of reach and significance
- 97% of Ulster's research environment has been judged as being conducive to producing research of world-leading and internationally excellent quality and enabling outstanding impact
- 80.1% of Ulster’s research outputs have been assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’
Our Research Focus
Our institutional research focus is tightly aligned to our mission, with four thematic research priorities:
- Social Renewal
- Healthy Communities
- Creativity and Culture
These priorities are pursued in a purposefully interdisciplinary way across 17 Units of Assessment (UoA) spanning 4 REF main panels, ensuring a strong link between our research and teaching while addressing issues of global relevance with meaningful impact locally, nationally, and globally.
Our four Faculties work across the disciplinary boundaries of their fields in a naturally, interdisciplinary way.
- Life and Health Science
- Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment
- the Ulster Business School
- Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
We have worked hard to maintain their sustainability and vitality bringing some disciplines closer together with each other and with industry and external partners to allow for greater scalability and impact.
This inclusive and collaborative approach has driven our suite of new research and innovation projects as part of the new City and Growth Deals in Northern Ireland.
As an institution, we enable and facilitate impact through our partnership approach.
Our pioneering innovative technologies and solutions support some of the biggest global challenges, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental health, access to clean water, renewable energy, increasing crop demand, access to justice, emerging technologies and a range of societal issues such as free legal access, abuse, fragility, violence, and conflict.
In both teaching and research, our strength lies in our partnerships with business and industry and knowledge transfer between them.
“This superb outcome for Ulster University confidently builds on our 2014 outcomes and demonstrates the depth and breadth of our research in diverse disciplines. The emphasis we place on research with impact is fundamental to the purpose of the University, our research community and our many partners in other universities and sectors, so I’m delighted that this has been recognised through this process.”
REF 2021 Results
Unit of Assessment Title
Category A Staff Submitted*
4 Star %
3 Star %
2 Star %
1 Star %
*Category A Staff Submitted reflects Full-time Equivalent.
Star Rating Definitions
The REF 2021 Results Table captures the overall quality profile, namely percentage of research activity at each quality level.
- 4 star - Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
- 3 star - Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which falls short of the highest standards of excellence.
- 2 star - Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
- 1 star - Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
- Unclassified - Quality that falls below the standard of nationally recognised work. Or work which does not meet the published definition of research for the purposes of this assessment.
“At Ulster University we are committed to creating an environment which supports, promotes and enables research excellence.
Over 96% of our research environment has been assessed as conducive to producing research of world-leading and internationally excellent quality and empowering outstanding impact.
This entirely reflects the quality, commitment, and leadership of our research community, our investment in research, our worldwide contribution, and the strength of our partnerships and collaborations.”