Research Excellence Framework

Our REF 2021 results

USW sees significant increase in world-leading research 

The University of South Wales (USW) has had a significant increase in the amount of world leading research according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) outcomes. This reflects USW’s work as a civic, impact-led research university, providing solutions to real-world issues. USW entered 11 subject areas (Units of Assessments or UOAs) into REF 2021 and each one (10 UOAs) previously submitted in 2014 has seen an increase in 4* and 3* research.  

Key achievements

There has been a 49% improvement in world leading research (categorised as 4*) at USW since the last REF in 2014. 

Almost two thirds of the USW researchers submitted to REF 2021 have research that has been categorised as world leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*).  

USW is now fourth in Wales for impact (up from 8th in 2014, based on 4* / 3*) with 81% of USW’s research impact being classed as world leading or internationally excellent (4* / 3*). 

Half of the UOAs that the University entered (six) have had 100% of their research impact classed as being world leading or internationally excellent (4* / 3*) with many leading the way in the UK and Wales.  

USW is joint first in the UK for impactful research in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy; in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences; in Computer Science and Informatics; in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure, and Tourism; in History; as well as in Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies (based on 4* / 3*). USW is first in Wales for impactful research in Social Work and Social Policy (based on 4* / 3*). 

“There has been a fantastic set of results for USW in REF 2021 with strong growth across several indicators.

"Our impact alone demonstrates the type of research university that we are - providing real-world solutions to society and the economy and supporting our communities, both local and international, that we serve.  

"To have strong results, not just for the University overall, but at UOA level, is very pleasing and we will be continuing to focus on delivering impactful, high-quality research that changes lives, and our world, for the better.”  

Professor Martin Steggall profile picture squerve

Professor Martin Steggall, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation

Explore our submissions and impact case studies