Dear colleague,

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 have just been made public and I’m delighted to share the good news that Imperial’s research quality is at an all-time high.

I am especially proud to see that Imperial has improved in each of its Units of Assessment – demonstrating excellence in science, engineering, medicine and business right across the College.

In summary the results show that:

  • The REF’s new impact measure ranks Imperial’s research the highest of any major university. Moreover, eight of Imperial’s 14 REF-assessed research areas are top or joint-top for “outstanding” or “very considerable” impact. 
  • Overall, Imperial comes fourth out of major UK universities for 4* or “world-leading” research, just behind the London School of Economics, Oxford and Cambridge, and ahead of UCL.
  •  91% of Imperial research is classed as “world-leading” (46% achieved the highest possible 4* score) or “internationally excellent” (44% achieved 3*) – the highest proportion of any major university.
  • Eight of Imperial’s 14 research areas were in the top three overall, with two taking the top spot: Public Health, Health Services & Primary Care and Civil & Construction Engineering.
  • Imperial was ranked top or joint-top for providing an environment conducive to producing “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” research in all of the Units of Assessment to which it made submissions. 
  • Imperial research quality has improved significantly from 2008 when the Research Assessment Exercise classed 73% of the College’s research submitted as 4* or 3*. Our 4* graded research has increased from 26% to 46%.
  • 92% of Imperial’s eligible staff took part in the REF, one of the highest proportions in the sector.

You can access the full set of results at:

This has been a true team effort. Our exceptional research environment is enriched by our outstanding early career researchers, including PhD students and postdocs, and by the vital contributions of our dedicated support staff. Imperial’s appetite for collaboration across disciplines and beyond academia has also contributed to today’s success.

My sincere thanks for all your tremendous work.

All good wishes for the festive season.

James Stirling


Watch a video of James Stirling introducing Imperial’s REF results

Read the news story about Imperial’s REF results

Explore examples of the impact of Imperial’s research