The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and informs the allocation of research funding from HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England).

Our submission reflects the areas of outstanding research for Cranfield, reflecting our position as a top five research institute, based on commercial income. In 2014, 81% of research at Cranfield was rated as world leading or internationally excellent in the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

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Watch video: Cranfield's research into understanding ice formation on aircraft

In 2014, 81% of research at Cranfield was rated as world leading or internationally excellent in the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) replaced the RAE which last took place in 2008. It assessed the quality and impact of research submitted by UK universities across all disciplines. As well as informing funding allocations, the REF provides accountability for public investment in research, demonstrates its benefits, and provides important reputational yardsticks and benchmarking information about the research performance of UK.

The University's research was submitted for REF 2014 in three units of assessment (UoA):

  • Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science
  • Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Business and Management Studies

Since RAE 2008, Cranfield has improved its position in all three of these units.


Highlights for Cranfield:

  • Top 10 in the UK for research quality in aeronautical, chemical and manufacturing engineering
  • No.1 in the UK for research income from the UK and EU industry, commerce and public corporations in all three units of assessment
  • Awarded over 700 doctoral degrees in the period 2008-2013.

REF 2014 key facts:

  • 154 UK universities took part. They made 1,911 submissions for:
  • - 191,232 research outputs

    - 6,975 impact case studies

  • 36 expert sub-panels reviewed the submissions, overseen by four main panels. Around £2 billion per year of research funding is allocated on the bases of the results.