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Archaeological research. Credit: Vicky Matthers

Key Objective 1: To be a world leader in research

The University Strategy


The University of York has an excellent research reputation, established over 50 years by our community of creative scholars. Many of our Departments and Centres are known internationally for their research activity. Research excellence defines York; further strengthening and improving our research to be dynamic, inspirational and life-changing in its impact is an absolute priority. Our vision is that York should provide a home for some of the best research in the world, and be regarded as one of the best places in the world to do research.

How will we achieve this?

  1. We will recruit and retain the best researchers at all career stages and support and mentor existing staff to offer them an attractive environment in which their research can flourish

  • We will recruit academic staff who are, or have the potential to become, international leaders in their disciplines.
  • We will ensure that working practices promote research time and are flexible enough to support exceptional outcomes with international impact, while respecting different approaches to research.
  • We will provide research facilities and infrastructure of the highest quality, embedding this priority in the University’s capital planning process.
  • We will establish a prestigious support scheme for postdoctoral fellows that encourages outstanding early career researchers to develop their research at York, potentially leading to a permanent academic appointment in the University.
  • We will provide guidance, training, mentoring and support as required to equip all researchers with the skills needed to undertake first-class research which adheres to the highest standards of integrity.
  • We will ensure that all research support staff, including technical and experimental officers, are fully trained and integrated into the research culture of Departments.
  • We will continue to ensure equal career opportunities for all, as demonstrated in our work with Athena Swan, Juno and other initiatives.

  1. We will give our major interdisciplinary research strengths focus, identity and presence, to encourage interdepartmental and international research activity

  • We will support excellent research within the core academic disciplines across the University.
  • We will promote the following research themes, which have been identified as current areas of major research strength and excellence that cross departmental boundaries:
    • Creativity
    • Culture and Communication
    • Environmental Sustainability and Resilience
    • Health and Wellbeing
    • Justice and Equality
    • Risk, Evidence and Decision Making
    • Technologies for the Future
  • The research themes will offer new opportunities for synergy and collaboration across the University and will enhance our profile in areas of major significance to policy makers and research funders.
  • We will review the themes regularly to ensure that they remain appropriate.
  • We will continue to support and encourage excellent research that does not fit within the selected themes, although we will give priority to research aligned to the themes in relation to calls on central resourcing and support.

  1. We will recognise the role of Departments in supporting their staff in the development of their research

  • We will maintain a strong commitment to the link between research and teaching.
  • We will strengthen research grant planning and peer review processes to encourage competitive funding proposals.
  • We will recognise the use of staff time for these purposes and employ resources such as academic leave and workload adjustment to enable research grant preparation.
  • We will agree clear research expectations for Departments and Centres in terms of levels of activity and performance.

  1. We will deploy University resources to support research excellence

  • We will make resources available to support the development of large applications for funding in areas of particular research strength.
  • We will ensure that incentives offered to researchers who are particularly successful in attracting research income and producing world leading research outcomes are appropriate and effective.
  • We will develop partnerships at national and international level that support the University’s research ambitions and the development of long‑term sustainable relationships.
  • We will proactively engage with major funders of research and external partners in order to understand their priorities, highlight York’s capabilities and expertise, and inform their policies.
  • We will diversify the portfolio of research income, particularly from European and other overseas programmes, industry and other public and private sources where appropriate.

  1. We will support our postgraduate research students and their supervisors

  • We will establish the York Graduate Research School, led by a senior academic, to provide institution-wide oversight of all matters relating to postgraduate research students, particularly training, development and support.
  • The School will work in conjunction with Departments and existing graduate training programmes and centres to ensure the highest level of broad and subject‑specific support across the University.
  • We will recognise the role of research students in promoting the research ambitions of the University and integrate them more effectively into the research culture of the institution.
  • We will provide training for students and supervisors, as appropriate, to ensure a culture of research excellence and integrity.
  • We will increase postgraduate research student numbers while maintaining the highest academic quality. To this end, we will make available central financial support for relevant external funding bids.