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School of Mathematics and Statistics Research Excellence

12 May 2022

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

Over 98% of research carried out by the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews is world-leading or internationally excellent, according to the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) published today (Thursday 12 May).

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 Mathematics and Statistics.

The School has improved considerably in all categories, increasing its 4* world-leading research across the board, with the School’s impact case studies in particular rated very highly. 

Professor Mark Chaplain, Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics said: “This result reflects the School’s long-term strategy of improving its research performance through the recruitment of high-quality academic staff, increasing external research funding, creating new research groups, and a continuing commitment to translating our academic research into impact through growing interdisciplinary collaborations and international partnerships.

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

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.

Research at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at St Andrews which REF judged to be world-leading included:

  • Developing statistical methods to reduce environmental impacts on the world’s oceans. Research has been used in a range of industries, from naval forces to wind turbine deployment to the response of marine animals to sonar is observed directly, providing critical datasets that have been used to improve sonar use around the world.
  • Distance sampling survey methods contribute to managing wild animal populations and quantifying biodiversity
  • Bringing Mathematics and its History to diverse audiences worldwide