Spotlight on REF 2014

Overview of UCA’s performance in REF2014

UCA was recognised for its creative arts research in the REF 2014 with 64% of UCA’s submission classed as world-leading (4*) and internationally excellent (3*) in terms of originality, significance and rigour (compared with 30% in RAE 2008) this is a significant increase. 93% of UCA research activity is recognised for its quality internationally (4*, 3* or 2*) in REF 2014 (compared with 65% in RAE 2008)

UCA submitted to the unit of assessment (UoA) 34 – Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory.  The submission presented excellent research, much of which testified to longstanding strengths in the areas of fine art, sustainable design, textiles and crafts,  photography, film and the moving image. However, the submission also testified to the trajectory of our research culture and expertise, and demonstrated comprehensive development across other disciplinary areas of our work, such as architecture and digital media.

UCA contributed 104 outputs to the assessment including exhibitions, buildings, ceramics, photographic collections, films, essays, books and commissioned reports, from a total of 33 researchers across the university.

UCA Impact in REF2014

UCA demonstrated the longstanding impact of its international centres, including The International Textiles Research Centre, directed by Professor Lesley Millar MBE, The Crafts Study Centre, directed by Professor Simon Olding, and the Centre for Sustainable Design, directed by Professor Martin Charter.

 Emphasis on the craft practitioner 

UCA’s Crafts Study Centre and The Anglo-Japanese Textiles Research Centre were critically acclaimed for championing the work of craft practitioners, finding new ways of thinking through creative practice. With a focus on the creative practitioner as a ‘maker’, the research-led programme of activities from both centres has made UCA a hub of critical craft debate, drawing on a diverse range of fields.

UCA’s textiles research has inspired many international practitioners’ work, including collaborative projects between Norwegian artist Anniken Amundsen and Japanese artist Machiko Agano, Through the Surface (2004-5) and Cultex (2009). Read the full impact case study here.

Lost in Lace

One of the key areas that UCA was praised for was Lesley Millar’s Lost in Lace. Presented by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Crafts Council, Lost in Lace brought together Eastern and Western understandings of the articulation of space, building upon a rich tradition of relationships between lace and architecture. With Professor Millar’s role at UCA as the director of the International Textile Research Centre, the exhibition explored Japanese spatial notions within a Western context.

Evidence shows that Lost in Lace generated nearly £950,000 worth of economic activity, and visitors derived from all over the world. For around 1,200 visitors, the exhibition was their first arts/cultural event, and findings demonstrate that around half of all respondents felt the exhibition had inspired them to learn more about lace or the artists. Read the full impact case study here

Encouraging green business 

The Centre for Sustainable Design was recognised for its impact on eco-design and eco-innovation in business through two specific projects: Professor Charter’s role on the ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) panel for Eco-Design, and his leadership of the collaborative project, Sustainable Supply Chains through Innovation, which worked at transferring knowledge of eco-design and sustainability to SMEs.

The project Sustainable Supply Chains through Innovation had a total value of over £400,000, and developed a series of innovative activities, workshops and events for transferring research knowledge to SMEs, procurement professionals and buyers in the South East. Events included ‘Green Dragons’, where delegates had to pitch sustainable goods and products to potential users.

REF 2014 has assessed 154 higher education institutions across the country. This is the first assessment that has required the institutions to demonstrate the impact of their research; the last assessment in 2008 focused primarily on the quality of the research outputs and the environment in which they have been created. Full impact case study can be accessed here