REF 2021: Imperial research is best in the UK

REF 2021: Imperial research is best in the UK

Imperial has a greater proportion of world-leading research than any other UK university, according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) published today. The results are Imperial's best-ever in the UK’s research assessment exercise, showing improvements in every area of assessment and confirming our position as a world-class research university.

The College ranks top in the UK overall – with a greater proportion of 4* “world-leading” research than any other UK university. Imperial ranks first in the UK for research outputs, first in the UK for research environment, and first for research impact among Russell Group universities.

The results reaffirm that Imperial is the best place in the UK for academics to pursue their research, with top results for its research environment. This achievement is the result of Imperial’s commitment to both discovery-led research and the translation of that work into tangible benefits for society. Imperial tops the board with the highest research impact of all Russell Group universities.

Imperial’s impact has been underlined during the pandemic, with the College’s researchers at the forefront of global efforts – modelling disease spread, pioneering the rapid development of new vaccine technology, and accelerating breakthrough treatments to help COVID-19 patients. As we emerge from the pandemic, Imperial is driving forward major strategic initiatives, accelerating a transition to a zero-pollution future, using the latest advances in machine learning to tackle societal challenges, and finding new real-world applications for deep tech discoveries.

Imperial is going from strength to strength. This excellent news about our research follows Imperial being named University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, this year’s University of the Year for Student Experience 2022 by the Good University Guide, our Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our COVID-19 response, and our highest ever student satisfaction scores last year.

Quotes from our leadership

Professor Alice Gast, College President

“These are outstanding results for Imperial. They confirm our position as a world-class research university, and are testament to the spirit of innovation, collaboration and internationalism that runs through everything we do.I am grateful for the tremendous efforts of our whole community. Every single member of staff at Imperial has contributed to this success from academics, postdocs and fellows, learning and teaching colleagues, to technical, operational and professional services."

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost

“Imperial is the best place in the UK for academics to pursue their research, and these REF results show that. We have created an environment that supports our researchers in tackling some of science’s deepest questions and some of society’s most urgent problems. Our research is stronger because of our collaborations – whether that’s across academic disciplines, institutions or international borders: we will always be a global institution."

Professor Mary Ryan, Interim Vice-Provost

“Imperial is a place where innovation, creativity and collaboration co-exist and thrive. Our researchers tackle the biggest challenges like climate change, future energy supplies, antibiotic resistance and national security, and they know the importance of making the most of their breakthroughs to deliver new technologies across the globe, creating a better, more sustainable and healthier future."