Features | By Amy Ripley

City recognised for its world-leading research

In May, City was recognised for producing world-leading and internationally excellent research that has a major impact on society, policy and the economy.


The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, which assesses research quality at UK higher education institutions, confirmed City’s position as world-leading University with an international reputation for research excellence.


The results showed that 86 per cent of City’s submission to the REF was rated as being of world-leading (4*) and internationally excellent (3*) quality. This is an increase of 10 per cent from the last REF in 2014 and 35 per cent since the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008. The results demonstrated a continued and significant improvement in City’s research standing.

City submitted 1,186 academic outputs (such as journal articles) and 47 impact case studies from 536 staff (496 FTE) across 13 Units of Assessment (UoA) to REF 2021.


Other highlights included:

  • City is 39th in the UK out of 129 universities according to the Times Higher Education rankings. This is an improvement of 12 places since REF 2014.
  • City is 44th out of all 156 submissions with an improvement of 16 places since REF 2014.
  • The proportion of City’s research rated world-leading (4*) has almost doubled to 40 per cent in REF 2021 (from 23 per cent in 2014).
  • City is 30th in terms of Grade Point Average (GPA) for the Outputs profile out of 129 universities, which is an increase of 18 places since REF 2014 (excluding specialist institutions).
  • City’s institutional GPA has improved by +0.30 to 3.25 (from 2.95 in 2014). All individual Units of Assessment (UoA) improved their overall GPA compared to 2014.
  • There were especially strong performances in Allied Health Professions, Business and Management, Sociology and Music, as well as significant improvements across many other Units of Assessment.


The REF assesses the strength of research quality across UK HEIs and measures three components: outputs (60 per cent); impact (25 per cent); environment (15 per cent). They are aggregated to form the overall ‘quality profile’.


A vital element of REF is illustrating the benefits research delivers beyond academia, including how it brings tangible changes to people’s lives and the public value it brings.


Universities receive a Quality Research (QR) grant from Research England based on the REF outcome which is fundamental in maintaining and developing institutional research infrastructure, supporting researchers and investing in research activity.


Professor Miguel Mera, Vice-President for Research at City says the results showed City’s significant contribution to world-leading and internationally excellent research.


“I am delighted with the results which show a significant improvement in our research standing since 2014, recognising the value of the work we have done to invest in our research capabilities.


“I would like to offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to all colleagues involved, both the researchers whose work has been recognised and the many staff in professional services teams for the preparation which went into our submission.


“We can look to the future with optimism. We have reinforced and strengthened our position and are now well positioned to be ambitious in achieving even better results in the future.”


Professor Sir Anthony Finkelstein, President of City says:


“City has done well in the REF and our staff can be very proud of their achievements. These results showcase excellent research – firmly rooted in our mission to be a University focused on business, practice and the professions. I thank my talented colleagues for their hard work and determination.”

Find out more


To find out more about City’s research, please visit our dedicated Research in Focus microsite which includes an overview of City’s research, a snapshot of our REF results and videos and articles about research projects and their impact on the world.


The full dataset of REF 2021 results can be found here.