Geography & Environment achieves outstanding results in Research Excellence Framework 2021

Geography & Environment has achieved outstanding results in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 with 91% of our research assessed ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

The REF independently assesses the quality of research in UK Higher Education Institutions against three main criteria: the quality of our best research “outputs”, the societal “impact” our research makes, and the overall research “environment” we provide[i]. Geography & Environment achieved particular success for our impact activity (83% ‘world leading’) and our research environment (63% ‘world leading’). All of our impact and environment was rated in the two highest categories, ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’.

Research Impact – Geography & Environment showcased the impact our research is having on people and places through case studies from our ground-breaking £39M modern energy cooking services programme, world leading flood nowcasting technology, and adaptation of water and energy infrastructure to climate change, alongside a wider range of impact activities. 83% of our impact activity was assessed world leading, reflecting our inclusive approach to working with partners to design and conduct research that matters.

Research Environment – Loughborough prides itself on providing a high-quality and collegial working environment for staff and students. The expert panel assessed our facilities and infrastructure, research organisation and strategy, approach to staff development and EDI, and overall contribution to geographical research and impact, with 63% identified as world leading. This followed £1.5M investment in new state-of-the-art research facilities and confirms Geography & Environment to be an inclusive research environment where postgraduate, postdoctoral and academic researchers work closely with technical and professional staff to achieve individual and collective success.

Research Outputs – The assessment of outputs focuses on the quality of published scientific research, with the expert panel rating 85% world leading or internationally excellent. Our researchers are continually pushing the scientific boundaries and the REF results confirm our significant research strengths in key areas, including, children’s geographies, cities, climate-water-energy, environmental change, extreme weather, hydroclimate risks and resilience, and migration.

Michael Hoyler, Head of Geography & Environment said: “I am delighted that these results underline the outstanding quality of research being conducted in Geography & Environment. It is especially pleasing that we were recognised for our transformative research impact and exceptional research environment. The results also confirm that students at Loughborough are being taught by some of the world’s best researchers and educators.

I would like to personally thank all colleagues involved for the hard work and dedication that underpins this significant achievement. Research excellence is a collaborative endeavour meaning these results also reflect the contributions of universities, businesses, communities and organisations who we partner with in our research.

We are very excited about the future for Geography & Environment. The recent launch at COP26 of our new £80M Centre for Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment and Resilience (STEER) provides one example of how we are using our success to accelerate the production of new research and impact. The results of the assessment confirm Geography & Environment’s upward trajectory and important contribution to Loughborough University’s outstanding research performance in REF2021.”

[i] About Research Excellence Framework 2021

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) assesses the quality of research in UK Higher Education Institutions. The assessment provides accountability for public investment in research, produces evidence of the benefits of supporting an internationally competitive UK research sector, and informs the distribution of block-grant research funding to universities between exercises (the last of which was conducted in 2014) on the basis of quality and volume.

The REF assesses performance against three main criteria: the quality of research “outputs” (60%), the societal “impact” research makes (25%), and the overall research “environment” (15%). The assessment is conducted independently by a national panel of subject experts.

The results of REF2021 were published on 12 May 2022. They provide important reputational and benchmarking information about the quality of research conducted at UK Universities, both at an institution and unit level.