The University of Southampton

RAE 2008: Exceptional success for ECS

Published: 19 December 2008

ECS researchers have achieved exceptional success in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

Computer Science has been ranked joint second in the UK for the quality of its research, with 85 per cent of its research work receiving either the top 4* rating (defined as ‘world leading’) or the 3* rating (‘internationally excellent’). In Electronics and Electrical Engineering (in which ECS was assessed jointly with the University's Optoelectronics Research Centre),* ECS (and the ORC) came second in the ‘medals’ tables, with 42 researchers rated as achieving research of either world-leading or internationally excellent quality. It also came second in the tables provided by Research Fortnight based on benchmarks combining 'quality' with 'volume' and known as 'market share' and 'power', which are likely to be used in the financial settlement next year. Overall ECS submitted 106 staff to this Research Assessment Exercise, and 97.5 per cent of their research work was deemed to be of international standard.

‘This is an excellent outcome for the School,’ said Professor Harvey Rutt, Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science. ‘We have achieved outstandingly good results and demonstrated once again that the driving force for the School remains its commitment to research work that is world-leading and transformative.

‘Across the School our academic staff are producing research that is pushing the boundaries of their subject disciplines and finding applications in areas such as transport, medicine, the environment, security, and communications, which are of real benefit to industry and society. While some caution is needed in the way that results can be interpreted across different subjects areas, the RAE results nonetheless show that our peers in universities and industry place a very high value on the work that is being achieved here in Southampton.’

The RAE results in ECS bring a very positive end to a year that has seen exciting and innovative initiatives across the School’s research groups. Most recently the School was a major beneficiary in the awards to UK universities of Centres for Doctoral Training by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). ECS will play a key role in two new Centres: for Web Science and Complex Systems Simulation. The School’s new Mountbatten Building and Southampton Nanofabrication Centre is now open and multi-million pound pieces of equipment are being installed in its clean rooms, with the prospect of an exciting future for the School’s research horizons.

‘These excellent results demonstrate to our partners that they can be assured of the international quality of the School’s research,’ said Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Deputy Head of School for Research. ‘The results also provide an excellent basis for students who are considering undertaking PhD research in leading Schools. Our strength and depth of research excellence is fully apparent in these results.’

The RAE is a UK Government-backed assessment carried out by independent reviewers who report on the quality of different areas of research in each university across the whole sector. The results of the RAE will be used to determine future funding for research groups from 2009. In the last RAE (2001) ECS achieved the top gradings of 5* for its research in Computer Science and in Electronics and Electrical Engineering.

The University of Southampton achieved excellent results across the board, confirming its position as one of the top universities in the country.

*The Optoelectronics Research Centre is one of the world’s leading institutes for photonics research, based at the University of Southampton.

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