Excellence of Eastern Arc research recognised

13 May 2022

The three Eastern Arc universities of UEA, Essex and Kent are in the top 25% nationally for research power, and over 85% of their publications are either world-leading or internationally excellent.

Collectively, over 2,000 academics and researchers submitted their work to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF), a national exercise to assess the quality of research taking place in the UK. 

The quality of the research being undertaken by the universities was clear in a wide number of subjects. Between them, the universities submitted evidence in 33 subject areas (or ‘units of assessment’ (UoAs)), over 95% of all possible areas, demonstrating the breadth of the work going on across the consortium. 

Together, the universities were top five nationally in almost a third of these (30%), and top ten in 40% of them, outperforming many of the Russell Group universities, according to an analysis by the Times Higher Education (THE). Areas of research excellence included History, Development Studies, Law, Modern Languages and Linguistics, Economics, Sociology, Philosophy and Area Studies.

THE also calculated the ‘research power’ of each university by factoring in the number of people being submitted in each area. According to this algorithm, the three EARC universities were in the top quartile of the 157 institutions taking part, and were in the top 10 nationally in more than a quarter of the UoAs.

Importantly, the EARC universities scored well for impact; that is, the effect that its research has had outside of academia. This has always been central to the work of the three universities, which have recognised the importance of ‘research with purpose’ since their foundation in the early 1960s.  All were in the top 40 nationally, and in many of its subject areas their case studies were deemed to be 100% world-leading.

‘These results have demonstrated the excellence of the work being undertaken across our consortium,’ said Phil Ward, Director of Eastern Arc. ‘It is a recognition of the important research that is being conducted at all three universities; research with social, economic and environmental impact. 

‘However, beyond the headlines it is important to never lose sight of the individual academics, researchers, managers and others whose very specific and tireless work underlies these results. I would like to congratulate them all on behalf of the consortium, and thank them for all they have done to make this possible.’

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