Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) has performed exceptionally strongly in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

REF is a process of expert review. The assessment outcomes are used in grant allocation and provide accountability for, and evidence of the benefits of, public investment in research.

According to the Research Fortnight ‘Power Index’ (based on volume of world-leading and internationally excellent research), we are seventh in the UK for Art, Design and History of Art. In Music we are placed thirteenth. Our joint submission with Heriot-Watt University (HWU) in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, places us second.

Across all five of our subject areas (Art, Design, History of Art, Music, and Architecture & Landscape Architecture), 100% of our research environment has been recognised as either world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*). This measure is an assessment of the ‘vitality and sustainability’ of:

  • our staff strategy and development
  • our research student culture
  • our income, infrastructure and facilities
  • our contribution to our disciplines and research base.

Together with HWU, with whom we made a joint submission, we have retained our status as first in Scotland for volume of world-leading and internationally excellent research in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning (REF Unit of Assessment 16).

Within Music (part of REF Unit of Assessment 35), we are top in Scotland for both world-leading and internationally excellent research outputs.

Principal of ECA, Professor Chris Breward, said:

“I am delighted to celebrate our impressive results, showing our growing strengths across all five of our subject areas. Our 100% score in the research environment category demonstrates the vital and sustainable context that has flourished since the merger of the former Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh. As a College, we are particularly excited to be contributing to the broader ecology of world-leading research taking place in Scotland.”

Results

ECA submitted to the REF across three Units of Assessment and, in each case, overall results have improved since RAE 2008.

  • 78% of research activity in Unit of Assessment 34 (Art, Design and History of Art) has been deemed either world-leading or of internationally excellent quality.
  • 74% of research activity in Unit of Assessment 35 (Music) has been deemed either world-leading or of internationally excellent quality.
  • 73% of research activity in Unit of Assessment 16 (Architecture, Built Environment and Planning) has been deemed either world-leading or of internationally excellent quality. This was a joint submission with Heriot-Watt University.

Impact

REF 2014 was the first review of its kind to ask institutions to demonstrate the impact of their research on the wider world. Research by Edinburgh College of Art has influenced, and been used by, stakeholders around the world. Because of our collaborative approach, we have been able to respond to a wide variety of global challenges, including the social inclusion of ageing populations and people with a range of illnesses and disabilities, cultural policy, the business of culture, and public engagement with, and participation in, the arts.

In Unit of Assessment 34 (Art, Design and History of Art), 100% of our submission was deemed to be in the highest two categories, that is, either ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’, in terms of reach and significance.

Outputs

A total of 344 research outputs, including journal papers, books, compositions, exhibitions and artefacts, were submitted by 106 staff.

  • 72.9% of the Reid School of Music’s research outputs submitted to the REF were judged to be world-leading or internationally significant in terms of their significance, originality and rigour.

Environment

Across all five of our subject areas, 100% of our research environment has been recognised as either world-leading or internationally excellent.

About the REF

The REF (Research Excellence Framework) is a process of expert review. It is conducted jointly by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland (DEL). These four bodies use the assessment outcomes to inform the selective allocation of their grant for research to the institutions which they fund, with effect from 2015-16.

The assessment provides benchmarking information and establishes reputational yardsticks for use within the higher education (HE) sector and for public information. It also provides accountability for public investment in research and produces evidence of the benefits of this investment.

Submissions are assessed in three areas: research outputs, research impacts and research environment.