Research Excellence Framework

The College made a submission to the UK Higher Education Funding Council  Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 in November 2013. The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in higher education institutions in the UK, and replaces the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), last conducted in 2008.

The REF was a process of expert review. Expert sub-panels for each of 36 units of assessment (UOAs) carried out the assessment during 2014, working under the leadership and guidance of four main panels. The RCA was returned to UOA 34 – Art and Design: History, Theory and Practice.


The RCA was assessed as the highest ranking UK specialist art and design institution in terms of 4* research overall, at 37 per cent.

A further 40 per cent of Royal College of Art research was rated as 3*, meaning that in total, 77 per cent of the College’s research was assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. This represents a 12 point increase on the College’s RAE 2008 results.

At 65 per cent of eligible staff, the RCA also submitted the highest proportion of staff by far, significantly more than any other multidisciplinary university of art and design.

The College’s REF 2014 submission also embraced the work of researchers at all levels of their career, from world-class professors to early-career researchers. As befits a mature research culture, 100 per cent of the College’s  was assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. 

For more information, see Royal College of Art Consolidates Position as Britain's Leading Specialist Art and Design University

The College’s Code of Practice on the Selection of Staff for REF 2014 sets out the steps the College took to achieve equality in the selection of academic staff for inclusion within the RCA REF2014 submission.

The College’s submission to REF2014 is overseen by the REF Working Group, which reports to the Research Committee, and is managed by the Research Office.