95% of GuildHE institutions submitted world-leading research to the REF, a remarkable achievement and testimony to the excellence of the sector in key research areas.

GuildHE congratulates our member institutions on their success in REF 2021. The results demonstrate the excellence of research in smaller and specialist institutions, and reinforce the value of supporting that research, wherever it is found. It is an exciting picture of research thriving up and down the UK, delivered by institutions of every type and scale.

The results demonstrate that excellence, quality, impact and sound research cultures can be developed successfully in a variety of settings, whether they be specialist, teaching intensive, or recent additions to the RDI landscape.

There are potential lessons for all institutions in these institutions’ success in creating world leading research environments and generating impact with targeted and creative deployment of public funds.

Professor John Strachan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research & Enterprise, Bath Spa University and Director of GuildHE Research, said: “It is very satisfying to see a significant number of newer institutions represented and recognised in REF2021. It is also very good to note strong and continuing growth in established GuildHE research-active institutions. The UK research infrastructure is rich and diverse and here we see evidence of the strong contribution of small and specialist providers. It is vital that the sector embraces the diversity of approaches to research that is now represented by the REF results”.

As the sector looks towards future assessments with a new design, there is potential to make even more of the ambitions and abilities of the full diversity of institutions, whatever their location, focus, research intensity, or scale.