The University of York has been ranked in the top 10 in the UK for the quality of its research, according to a prestigious league table.

York has risen from 14th in 2014 to joint 10th in the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

In a message to staff and postgraduate researchers, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery, comments that the ranking positions York as a “true force for public good.”

Professor Jeffery highlighted the strong performance across all three core measures used by REF - the quality of our research, our impact, and our supportive research environment - and across all three University Faculties.

Professor Jeffery said: “This is an absolutely incredible achievement. The University of York has always prized both the discovery of new knowledge through research and the impact it brings to our society. This performance positions York as a true force for public good. 

“It gives us a great platform to extend our commitment to research excellence with social impact as we deliver our strategy and vision for the future.”

Professor Matthias Ruth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, added: “Our congratulations to all involved: the brilliant academics and professional service colleagues who closely worked with each other on our REF submission, those who served on REF assessment panels, and the wider community of staff, research partners and supporters who helped make this outstanding result possible.”

In the message, staff and postgraduate researchers were encouraged to look at Departmental highlights and celebrate those who have been internationally recognised for their expertise. The impact case studies submitted to REF enabled everyone to understand more about how the University’s commitment and dedication to working with partners and communities across the world is making a difference. 

The Times Higher Education rankings:

  • York moved into the top 10 (joint 10th) of UK universities for research quality, up from 14th position in REF 2014. 
  • All of York’s subject areas are now ranked in the top 30 in the UK, with four Departments positioned in the top five: Language and Linguistic Science (1st), Philosophy (2nd), Sociology (4th), Education (5th). A further eight Departments are in the top 10: Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, English and Related Literature, Health Sciences (including the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, Centre for Health Economics and Hull York Medical School), History of Art and Psychology.
  • Particular recognition has been given to the environment in which York supports research through facilities, mentoring and career development, with the University rising from 19th to 11th place in this category. Research outputs and the impact of research both position York 12th in the UK. 

REF judged 53 per cent of the University’s research to be four star or “world-leading” and 40 per cent to be three star or  “internationally excellent”.

The REF provides a robust and thorough assessment of the quality of universities’ research in all disciplines, providing accountability for public investment in research and demonstrating the benefits of that investment.

For the first time, the assessment included the submission of all staff with significant responsibility for research, meaning the results provide a unique insight into the quality of research conducted across the breadth of university activity.