Warwick Tops the Bill for Quality of Research; EDUCATION University Is Ranked Eighth Best in England

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Byline: TONY COLLINS Education Correspondent

University of Warwick was named the best institute in the region and eighth in the country today for research after an in-depth assessment across 127universities in England.

The University of Birmingham was second in the region followed by Aston University and Keele in the assessment carried out by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFC).

TheHEFC will use the data to allocate more than pounds 1.5billion in government funding touniversities each year for two years.

Money will be shared out on the basis of which research subjects, from business and horticulture, medicine and film studies, were graded between "nationally recognised" to "world-leading".

The table of 127 research institutions in England which submitted more than two subjects, showed the University of Warwick ranked eighth in the country, helped by film studies and horticulture each being listed top and history, pure maths and French second in the country.

Warwick maintained its top ten position from 2001, which is the last time that the government published such detailed information into the quality and meaningfulness of research taking place in universities across England.

The university submitted 35 per cent more research staff for scrutiny by the HEFC this year than in 2001.

Although the more staff you submit tends to result in more funding for future research, it could 'water down' a university's overall grade leading to a lower ranking in the national table.

University of Warwick spokesman Peter Dunn said: "It's very good news for us because the gamble of putting 35 per cent more academics into the exercise has paid off.

"If you were to cherry-pick staff, and put in those rated the highest, you would get less overall money but would be higher up the table and therefore attract better students.

"We are doubly pleased because we put in considerably more staff but still maintained our position as the top research university in the region and seventh in the country if you discount the London School of Hygiene which is a specialist college.

"The HEFC will now go away with these figures and decide how much of the pot we will get, but we should do really well out of this."

The rankings were based on a 'grade point average' of research that is either deemed to be of world-leading quality, internationally excellent, recognised internationally, or nationally recognised.

The total score is then divided by 100 to give an average. This measure placed the University of Birmingham in 25th place, but the institute pointed to a separate table compiled by independent research journal Research Fortnight which lists the Edgbaston-based institution 12th in the UK and top in the West Midlands. …