We鈥檙e known for our inspirational research at York, and the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 places us in the top 10 institutions in the UK for research.

REF 2021: how did we do? 

Find out why our REF results are so significant - read our statement on our REF 2021 results.

What is REF?

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK鈥檚 system for assessing the quality of research in higher education institutions, undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: , the (SFC), the (HEFCW), and the (DfE). 

Expert review panels made up of senior academics, international members and research users assess research across 34 subject areas.

Results impact the Quality-related Research (QR) funding we receive from Research England. A good REF performance helps us secure our research base and continue to build our reputation as one of the world鈥檚 leading research universities.

What does REF say about the quality of our research?

York is in the top 10 in the UK for the quality of its research, rising from 14th in 2014.

REF judged 52.8% of the University鈥檚 research to be four star or 鈥渨orld-leading鈥 and 40.1% to be three star or 鈥渋nternationally excellent鈥.

All of York鈥檚 subject areas are now ranked in the top 30 in the UK for research, with four departments in the top five.

See our latest REF results

*Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, excluding specialist institutions which submitted fewer than four units of assessment

How does REF work?

REF takes place every seven years, with the latest results published in May 2022, having been postponed from 2021 due to the Covid pandemic. Each subject area is assessed under 鈥榰nits of assessment鈥, with higher education institutions deciding which areas to submit in. 

Each REF submission includes: details of selected staff, research outputs, impact case studies, data about research income and PGR degrees awarded and a completed template to describe the research environment.

Visit the REF website for more detail

How is research scored?

Four star: world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

Three star: internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but falls short of the highest standards.

Two star: recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

One star: recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

Unclassified: falls below the standard of nationally recognised work, or does not meet the published definition.