National recognition of research excellence at Oxford Brookes University

Thursday, 12 May 2022

REF 2021 logo

A UK-wide assessment of university research, published today (Thursday 12 May), shows that research at Oxford Brookes University continues to thrive and make a real difference to people’s lives around the world.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.  In total, 157 UK universities participated in the REF 2021.

The latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) found that 97% of research at Oxford Brookes was internationally recognised or higher. It also found that 70% was judged to be of ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ quality.

Professor Linda King, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Global Partnerships said: “Today’s results reflect Oxford Brookes’ well-established international reputation for research, and my colleagues’ commitment to academic excellence and rigour.

“I am very proud that so much of our research has been recognised as internationally excellent or world leading - it shows that we’re making a real difference to people’s lives across the globe and that’s what we should be doing as an academic institution. Research is also at the heart of our teaching - helping our graduates to be at the forefront of new innovation.

The REF 2021 had an increased focus on 'impact' - research that demonstrates wider benefits beyond academia, including how it brings tangible changes to aspects of society and life, and the public value it delivers. Research carried out by 416 academics across Oxford Brookes was reviewed, nearly 40% up on the number of academics who submitted research to the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Researchers at Oxford Brookes submitted 42 impact case studies in 15 different units of assessment for grading by REF 2021, with areas of research in each category judged to be internationally excellent or world leading.

  • Allied Health Professions
  • Psychology 
  • Biological Sciences
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Architecture, Built Environment and Planning
  • Geography and Environmental Studies 
  • Business and Management Studies
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Education 
  • English
  • History
  • Art and Design
  • Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

There were a total of 34 units of assessment in REF2021.

Research at Oxford Brookes University changes lives around the world

During the pandemic, Professor Tina Miller researched how lockdown impacted family life, in particular how it affected men and women differently as part of her long-term research which challenges the idea that caring responsibilities are essentially female. Her findings have transformed public policy, changing public perceptions of gender equality and how caring and paid work is organised both in the UK and around the world.

Professor Helen Walkington has proved that research is not just for academics and postgraduate students, but can also benefit undergraduates and school pupils. By demonstrating the benefits of following research-based learning strategies for students, teachers and institutions, her work has transformed higher education nationally and internationally, establishing new teaching practices and methods.

Professor Anna Barnett’s research into children and young people with movement and handwriting difficulties led her to develop a set of new assessment tools widely used by health and education professionals to identify movement and handwriting problems so the right support can be planned and delivered. These tests are also used to identify children that write slowly - giving them access to support including special arrangements in exams.

Reforming the role of reservists has been a major priority across the Armed Forces. Professor Vince Connelly’s research looked at the barriers to successful integration and then helped shape both the policy and roll-out of the new reforms leading to more successful integration of 30,000 reservists with 82,000 full-time regular army staff.

Local libraries worked with Professor Simon Kovesi to inspire people from disadvantaged communities to explore the poetry of John Clare and do some creative writing themselves. This created a sense of community as well as enriching public understanding of John Clare.  Simon’s work has raised public awareness of working-class poetry through media including radio, podcasts, panel discussions, public events and an album of Clare’s words and music.

Regularly flagged as ‘a unique British artist’, Professor Ray Lee’s installations combining kinetic art and sound sculptures explore the physical movement of sound through space. Ray’s installations have had a widespread impact on how the public engages with sound art and has influenced arts programming and events both nationally and internationally.

More examples of how Oxford Brookes research is changing lives, informing government policy formulation and producing innovative solutions can be found on the Oxford Brookes website.

You can read more about the University’s REF 2021 performance on its dedicated web pages. The full results of the REF are available at www.ref.ac.uk