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School of Economics and Finance recognised for research excellence

13 May 2022

Over 83% of research carried out by the School of Economics and Finance at the University of St Andrews, and over 88% of research outputs, is world-leading or internationally excellent, according to the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) published in May 2022.

The REF – a detailed analysis of the research strengths of all UK universities – found that St Andrews excelled in a number of key research areas, including Economics and Finance.

Research on the budget of the Scottish Government, determining the pay of NHS staff, and monetary policy normalisation following the Great Recession was considered to demonstrate very considerable or considerable impact in terms of reach and significance.

Professor Alan Sutherland, Head of School, said: "The results demonstrate that research from the School is world-leading or internationally excellent with considerable reach and significance. They represent an improvement in absolute performance in terms of outputs and impact, and maintenance of our environment compared with the last assessment exercise in 2014. In line with our research strategy, the School remains committed to producing world-leading research which provides demonstrable benefits to society. We aspire to build on and expand our global reputation as a leading Economics school that pursues high-quality scholarship across our focused intellectual themes grounded in the social sciences.”

The School continues to develop a strong and sustainable core of policy engagement based on new research and interdisciplinary collaboration with other schools in St Andrews and beyond. Examples of current impact activity include research on the role of unpaid work in careers in science, early child development in low-resource settings, and measuring of fossil-fuel subsidies.

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

St Andrews Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE said: "The overall quality of our research has increased significantly since the last REF in 2014, we have cause to celebrate the achievements of several of our Schools whose research is rated amongst the best in the UK, and the fact that over 88% 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."

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

According to these figures, using the method of Grade Point Average (GPA), St Andrews was ranked 3rd in Scotland and 28th in the UK, one of six Scottish universities ranked amongst the top 50 research institutions in the UK.

Full details of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 are available on the REF website.