The top performing subject areas were English and Drama which returned 45% and 35% of research in the top 4* category respectively. On this measure Exeter’s English department is the best in the UK for research and Classics are third.

A rising star among research-intensive institutions

The results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise confirm Exeter’s position as one of the leading research-intensive universities in the UK.

Nearly 90% of Exeter’s research was rated as being at internationally recognised levels.

Every subject was assessed as including world-leading (4*) research.

When the results are adjusted for the number of staff submitted, the University is ranked 15th in the UK for research out of 159 higher education institutions. Exeter submitted 95% of its staff to the RAE - 636 in total - a much higher proportion than most other universities.

Times Higher Education concluded: ‘The Universities of Loughborough, Leeds and Exeter...put in strong performances as rising stars among research-intensive institutions.’

The Times said: '...some universities with leading scores had declined to enter up to a quarter of their academics. Exeter University...moved from 26th to 15th when all staff were taken into account rather than just those entered for the exercise.’

The quality of research at the University of Exeter has markedly improved since the last RAE in 2001. Exeter was one of 159 higher education institutions submitted to the RAE which measures the quality of research across the higher education sector. RAE expert panels assessed more than 200,000 pieces of work from 52,500 staff. The results will be used to distribute £1.5 billion a year worth of research funding to UK universities from August 2009.

Since the last RAE in 2001 Exeter has shown significant improvements:

  • 17% of our research is categorised as 'world-leading', 89% of our activity is at internationally recognised levels
  • Our English Department is the highest ranked in the sector for world-leading research, with Classics & Ancient History 3rd on the same basis. Accounting & Finance is 2nd in the sector, as is Archaeology (4* and 3* combined)
  • 16 of our 31 subjects are ranked in the top 10, with 27 in the top 20

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter Professor Steve Smith said: ‘These results show a significant improvement since 2001. Particularly pleasing is the increase in the amount of 4* rated research. We have achieved our targets in terms of research outputs and we will be looking to build on this result as we go forward.’

The RAE rates research across a five point scale ranging from ungraded to 4*. The higher the grade the more research funding is achieved. Grades 2*, 3* and 4* denote ascending grades of international research quality. 34 per cent of research at Exeter falls into 2*, 39 per cent at 3* and 17 per cent at 4*.

Date: 24 December 2008

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