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Today the UK funding bodies have published the results of the UK’s most recent research assessment exercise, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.  

Selected research from Oxford Population Health was submitted to Unit of Assessment 2: Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care, along with research from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences (NDPCHS). Overall, 96% of this research was ranked either 4* (world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour) or 3* (internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour).

The REF is a comprehensive UK-wide assessment of research quality, carried out by the four UK higher education funding bodies. The purpose is to provide accountability for public investment in research, to generate evidence on the benefits of investing in research, and to inform the selective allocation of future research funding. In particular, REF results are used to determine the amount of quality-related research (QR) funding that universities receive from the Government each year for the next seven years.

Research assessments are carried out by expert panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UoAs). For each submission, three distinct elements are assessed: their impact beyond academia (measured through impact case studies), the environment that supports research, and the quality of outputs (such as publications).

68% of our joint (Oxford Population Health and NDPCHS) submission was judged to be 4* (the highest score available, for research quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigour). 83.3% of the impact case studies were 4* (the highest score for impact demonstrating outstanding reach and significance); 87.5% of the research environment was classified 4* (defined as an environment that is conducive to producing research of world-leading quality and enabling outstanding impact, in terms of its vitality and sustainability); and 56.5% of the research outputs were 4* (world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour) with 37% 3* (internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour).

Professor Sir Rory Collins, Head of Oxford Population Health, said: ‘These results demonstrate the calibre and commitment of our researchers who work tirelessly to provide solutions to some of the biggest questions in healthcare.

‘I am very grateful to the many researchers and professional staff who supported our submission, not only by delivering research that changes the lives of people worldwide, but by sourcing evidence, and writing and reviewing our submission. Thanks to their efforts, the impact and quality of this research has been recognised.’

Oxford Population Health’s contribution recognised:

Commenting on the overall REF submission for the University of Oxford, Vice Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson said: 'The REF 2021 results demonstrate once again that Oxford is a research powerhouse, and the impact case studies highlight our effectiveness in putting this research in service to society by making critical contributions to global health, economic prosperity and cultural life.

'The REF is one of the few opportunities to see the remarkable breadth of our research and to draw together all parts of the collegiate University in a single collaborative effort, and I would like to thank everyone involved for their contribution.'

Find out about the University of Oxford’s REF results.

Read the sector results on the REF website. Further information, including the impact case studies, will be published on the REF website during June and July.