12 May 2022

University of Sheffield celebrates its impactful research

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 results confirm engineering research is changing lives and shaping the world we live in.

REF 2021 illustration
  • 92 per cent of research and its real-world impact at the University of Sheffield has been rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • Engineering places 8th nationally for overall research quality. 96 per cent of research is rated in the highest two categories 
  • The REF results are used to inform the allocation of around £2 billion per year of public funding for research
  • The University of Sheffield’s submission to the REF included 3,684 outputs, 114 impact case studies and 1,690 staff
  • The framework assesses the quality of our research, as well as the impact of that research beyond academia, measuring the benefits of innovative collaboration with business, industry, the public sector and civil society organisations which help to translate groundbreaking ideas into real-world solutions

The University of Sheffield is today (12 May 2022) celebrating its pioneering research which is addressing some of the biggest global challenges and making a real-world impact

The publication of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), a national assessment of the research taking place across UK universities, has classed 92 per cent of the University of Sheffield’s research as world-leading or internationally excellent. This reaffirms the institute's research excellence across a range of disciplines.

We are proud to have come 8th in the REF 2021 in terms of the quality of our research. 96 per cent of our research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021, meaning it is classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

We are rated as top nationally for the quality of our research environment, showing that Engineering at Sheffield is a vibrant, innovative and supportive place to undertake research.

Our impact submission is rated 10th nationally, showing our research is playing a fundamental role in tackling the greatest challenges of our time and making a real-world difference to peoples’ lives around the world. 


I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their efforts in the REF. Our REF submission is an academically led endeavour that is underpinned and strengthened by the quality of our professional and technical staff, researchers and students, so it really is well done everyone.

Professor Martin Mayfield

Head of Department, Civil and Structural Engineering


“The REF case studies, which describe partnerships with businesses, charities, and other academic partners from around the world, range from blast protection to water quality and have impacted the lives of hundreds of people globally.

"This is a good time to think about the impact our work has on the world - our goal is to make things better and there has never been a more crucial time for Civil and Structural Engineering in a world challenged by climate change and resource depletion. We definitely do that (confirmed by, but also regardless of, these metrics) and everyone in the department plays a really important role in fulfilling that goal and for that we say a huge thank you and that we are proud of everyone and their achievements."

The REF results are used to inform the allocation of around £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research which aims to make a difference to people’s lives across the globe.

The framework assesses university research according to the quality of research outputs, such as journal articles, books and designs; the impact of research beyond academia, looking at the benefits of innovative collaboration with business, industry, the public sector and civil society organisations which help to translate groundbreaking ideas into real-world solutions; and the environment within universities that supports research.


I’m really proud that our REF results confirm that our research is making an impact, but I’m also excited about the future.

Professor Sue Hartley

Vice-President for Research at the University of Sheffield


“We’ve set ourselves an ambitious vision for our research to be world-leading and world-changing, to drive intellectual advances and address global challenges. 

“Together I would like us to build on from our REF results and continue to enable and actively promote a culture of research excellence across our community for the benefit of our University, our researchers and the wider world.” 

The University of Sheffield’s submission to the REF included 3,684 outputs, 114 impact case studies and 1,690 staff.

REF is a retrospective exercise looking back over seven years of ground breaking research achieved by leading researchers, and those that support the research environment. The REF is a milestone for inspiring future discoveries and continuing to make a difference to lives across the world. 
 

Our league table rankings

Top 50 in the world and 7th in the UK according to the QS World University rankings by subject (2022).

11th in the UK according to the Times University League Table (2021).

8th in the UK according to the Complete University Guide (2021).

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.