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Birkbeck, University of London | Research at Birkbeck | The Research Assessment Exercise
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The Research Assessment Exercise

The results of the 2008 RAE confirm the college’s status as a world-class, research-intensive institution.

Birkbeck entered over 90% of its eligible staff into the RAE, and the results show that more than 75% of those staff are in units of assessment where the highest 4* and 3* rating was achieved by 50% of staff or more.

'This is an excellent result for Birkbeck,' said Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck. 'I am delighted that the RAE has recognised the strength of Birkbeck’s research base, our research intensity and our commitment to world-class research. The results show that Birkbeck, as a multi-faculty institution, has great strengths across the College. There has been an outstanding performance from the sciences, in particular in Psychology, Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences. We have maintained our excellence in the arts and humanities, with History excelling and I am delighted by our improvements in our business facing areas, including Computer Science and Management.'

More about the RAE process

  • Birkbeck ranks in the top 25% of UK multi-faculty HEIs, according to RAE 2008 benchmarking data.
  • The RAE rated the quality of research in a range of subjects at 159 Higher Education Institutions in the UK. Initial analysis shows submissions from Earth Sciences, Psychology, History, Classics and Archaeology, Iberian and Latin American Studies, and History of Art, Film and Visual Media were rated in the top 5 nationally. All 17 Birkbeck submissions had at least 60% of their research classified as 'internationally recognised' whilst 11 of 17 had the majority of their research categorised as 'internationally excellent' and 'world leading'.
  • The 2008 RAE introduced a new rating system to measure research excellence. In 2001 a maximum 5* score was possible. This time, the highest rating is 4*. Each institution receives a quality profile which grades research excellence across the subject, rather than assigning a single rating. This scoring system makes it difficult to draw comparison with previous results.
  • RAE 2008 rated the quality of Birkbeck research for the period 2001-07, and will help determine the College’s research grant from HEFCE from 2009 onwards.
  • We expect RAE tables to be produced by several media outlets, including the Times Higher Education, the Guardian and The Times. Each publication may interpret the data in different ways, based on their selected criteria. Birkbeck’s position in these tables will vary as a result. Two points should be considered when viewing any league table:
  • We chose to submit as many people as possible to the RAE. More than 90% of all those eligible were included in our RAE return.
  • Birkbeck’s flexible teaching model means we employ a large number of sessional lecturers on less than a 0.2 contract. These people were not eligible to be entered in the RAE. This approach allows us to employ experts from a variety of backgrounds to teach our extensive range of short courses and certificate programmes. However, this may appear to disadvantage Birkbeck in any league table which uses an overall headcount figure in its formulation.

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