Over a third of UWE research is internationally excellent

Issue date: 18 December 2008

University of the West of England Over a third (37%) of research carried out at the University of the West of England (UWE, Bristol) is considered world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of its originality, significance and rigour. This is the outcome of the 2008 RAE *(Research Assessment Exercise) which assesses the quality of research in Higher Education in the UK. * UWE's submission to the RAE comprised more than 330 staff across 21 subject areas.

According to the RAE, the University of the West of England is considered to have high levels of world-leading and internationally excellent research in Biomedical Sciences, Art and Design and Communication, Cultural and Media Studies.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor said, “These results are excellent news for UWE. We are particularly pleased that the outstanding work we do in biomedical sciences, and creative arts and media has been recognised. This year's RAE results are another milestone in our progress towards the vision of UWE as an institution carrying out world-class research in areas of strength. It also reinforces our mission to encourage research to enrich our academic programmes at all levels in teaching, policy and practice.”

Biomedical Sciences, includes work in cellular and molecular medicine, and diagnostics and human health. The Centres for Research in Biomedicine and in Analytical, Materials and Sensors Science have led the way in understanding fundamental biomedical processes as a way of helping develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic techniques.

For a recent example of ground breaking work carried out by the Centre for Research in Biomedicine. See:

Professor John Duffield, Executive Dean of Health and Life Sciences said, “The strong combination of discipline areas has produced the largest proportion of internationally excellent research in Biomedical Sciences among UK universities as well as some outstanding contributions to people's health worldwide.”

Art and Design, includes the work of the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) which carries out research into old printing processes, wide format printing technologies, digital printing and the creation of art and craft artifacts using 3D print technology. The Centre also runs CREATE (Colour Research for European Advanced Technology Employment), a series of international conferences focusing on the latest research and technological advances in colour. In 2009 UWE will host 'Impact' in Bristol, an international multi-disciplinary printmaking conference, set up by CFPR in 1999. See CFPR website

Professor Stephen Hoskins is one of the few 'Hewlett Packard' Professors in the world. For information on the CREATE conference held in 2007. See

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies at UWE has played a pioneering role in the study of media, culture and technology. Staff have been instrumental in the establishment of the theoretical study of computer and videogames in Britain, organising the first national conference on the subject, Game Cultures, in 2001 and subsequently the symposium Power Up: Computer Games, Ideology and Play in Bristol in 2003. Through the new Research Centre in Digital Cultures, Professor Jon Dovey and colleagues have become leaders in research into new media, digital culture and gaming.
See research group website

The RAE has also recognised internationally excellent work in computer science, engineering, linguistics, plant sciences and accounting and finance at UWE.

Professor Paul Gough, Executive Dean of Creative Arts at UWE and chair of one of the UK RAE panels, concludes, “It is exciting for us to be clearly ahead of many other institutions in new areas of research addressing contemporary issues which also have direct application to practice, such as Fine Print Research and Digital Cultures. After rigorous scrutiny by our peers in this country and overseas, it is gratifying to see that over 60% of our research is world leading and internationally excellent. This is over the university sector's and UWE's own average.

“We are delighted that our commitment to 'real world' research has been recognised on the global stage, but also for its connection to community and industry needs.”

UWE submitted the third largest number of academics to the RAE from the new universities.


Editor's notes

For detailed results of the 2008 RAE for UWE.

*The RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) assesses the quality of research in Higher Education in the UK. Universities make submissions in subject areas they choose according to a set of guidelines. These are then assessed by a series of panels – with altogether around 1,000 panel members - who make judgments against 'quality profiles.'

All universities who receive research funding can make submissions to the RAE which are then assessed. The results of the RAE inform future research funding by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The last RAE was in 2001. 2008 will be the 6th RAE since it was introduced in 1986 and this year's RAE will be the last. In future a new system will be introduced, the Research Excellence Framework (REF). http://www.rae.ac.uk

Subject areas where UWE is above national University average in volume of 3*, internationally recognised research are: Nursing and Midwifery, Allied Health Professions, Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Sciences, Engineering, Town and Country Planning, Linguistics, History, Art and Design, Communications Cultural and Media Studies.

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