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Research excellence surges

Increase in high-quality research shown in REF 2021 raises prospect of funding changes

Universities across the UK scored significantly better in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework than in the previous iteration of the huge assessment of institutions’ research quality, leading to calls for more money to reward this excellence alongside questions about grade inflation.

Forty-one per cent of overall submissions were considered world-leading (4*), compared with 30 per cent in 2014. For outputs the highest grade was given to 36 per cent in 2021 versus 22 per cent in 2014 and 14 per cent in 2008—although the exercises were run differently in these years.

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