REF 2021: Over 90% of Loughborough’s research is ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’

94% of Loughborough’s research impact is also rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

The results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), published today (12 May), show that 91% of Loughborough University’s research is now ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’.

The REF is the system through which the quality of research in UK universities is assessed.

The 2021 results also show an 11% increase in Loughborough’s share of the UK’s very best research, since the REF was last undertaken in 2014, as the institution gained significant ground in comparison to others.

The results particularly underline the wide-ranging positive impacts that Loughborough’s research has on the world. Here, 94% of Loughborough’s research impact is rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ – another significant increase on 2014.

Some of Loughborough’s stand out performances came in the areas that support the three headline themes of our new university strategy – net zero and climate change, sport, health and wellbeing, and vibrant and inclusive communities:

  • Architecture and the Built Environment
    Where Loughborough research delivers zero-carbon, resilient buildings, infrastructure and cities in a world under pressure from rising urban populations, ageing infrastructure, resource constraints and multiple hazards.
  • Communication and Media Studies
    Loughborough’s research in political communication, language and social interaction, media, memory and history engages with a world marked by a global pandemic, structural inequalities, and major challenges to liberal democracy.

  • Sport and Exercise Sciences
    Where Loughborough research advances sport science, from elite sport to mass participation, and directly influences policy and practice to address challenges in population health and wellbeing, social inclusion and sport integrity.

The University has also demonstrated enhanced research performance in areas such as Computer Science and Geography, alongside enduring research strengths in Art and Design, Business and Management Studies, and Engineering.

Speaking about the latest REF results, Loughborough Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings, said: “Quite simply, these results are exceptional for us. We’ve seen one of the largest increases in the sector in the proportion of research classed as ‘world-leading’, and our results underline the tangible impact our research is having on the world. We’re making a real difference to the lives of people all around the globe.

“Many colleagues across our community have been involved in the REF in some way, and I am extremely grateful for their contribution. You should be proud of what we have achieved.”