University of St Andrews is recognised for research excellence

Research at Scotland’s oldest university is amongst the highest quality in the country.

By Kevin McRoberts
Monday, 16th May 2022, 1:50 pm
Updated Monday, 16th May 2022, 1:50 pm
Chemistry is one the fields in which St Andrews excels when it comes to research.
Chemistry is one the fields in which St Andrews excels when it comes to research.

More than 88 per cent of research carried out by the University of St Andrews is world-leading or internationally excellent, according to the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) published this week.

The REF – a detailed analysis of the research strengths of all UK universities – found that St Andrews particularly excelled in a number of key research areas, including Physics, Earth Sciences, Art History, Anthropology, Modern Languages, and Chemistry, a joint submission to REF with the University of Edinburgh.

St Andrews’ partnership with the University of Edinburgh for Chemistry was ranked first in the UK based on the quality and breadth of its combined research.

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Also performing strongly in St Andrews were Medicine, Psychology, History, and Maths and Statistics.

REF found that the overall quality of research at St Andrews had increased by 5.7 per cent since the last assessment exercise in 2014.

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Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE, St Andrews Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “We have cause to celebrate the achievements of several of our Schools whose research is rated amongst the best in the UK.

“The fact that over 88 per cent of the research we produce in this small corner of Fife has been held to be world-leading or internationally excellent is a remarkable achievement.”

The research portfolio which St Andrews submitted for assessment explored areas as diverse as the presence of toxins in vaping products, new methods to tackle tuberculosis in developing countries, and improving understanding of positive change in post-genocide Rwanda.

Although REF itself explicitly does not rank universities according to research strengths, the metrics it produces are widely used in the higher education sector to benchmark research performance.

According to these figures, using the method of Grade Point Average (GPA), St Andrews was top in Scotland for Physics, Earth Sciences, Modern Languages, Art History, Anthropology and Chemistry (joint submission with the University of Edinburgh).