Research Excellence Framework

Members of Conservatoires UK achieved notable success in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), which is the periodic external review of research activities and their impact in the wider world. Carried out under the auspices of the Funding Councils, this is an extremely thorough evaluation by a large and diverse panel of external academic peers, together with advisers from a wide range of cultural organisations and industries. The results of REF are used to determine future research funding settlements for individual institutions and also allow for a comparative view of activity and achievements across the sector. The REF evaluation process involves evaluation of quality in three broad areas – output, impact and environment.

The member institutions of Conservatoires UK which made submissions to REF were able to demonstrate that their research makes an exceptional impact on the lives of different beneficiaries, ranging from training, general education, health and well-being to the opening up of artistic innovation and knowledge to audiences around the world. There was clear evidence that Conservatoires benefit an especially wide range of stakeholders outside academia both nationally and internationally; they are clear market leaders in UK Higher Education in terms of the reach and significance of their research across the performing arts. In the category in which they are assessed (‘Music, Dance, Drama and Performing Arts’), CUK institutions’ overall rating for ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ impact was 94%, against a sector average of 80%. Furthermore, a high proportion of the research outputs that Conservatoires submitted across practice and theory were classed as world-leading or internationally significant, drawing upon a unique resource – hundreds of student practitioners of the highest quality who enable researchers to engage with fully professional levels of performance. This has been achieved largely within small specialist institutions which cannot match the research infrastructure of large universities, employ a high proportion of fractional staff and must balance research investment with other pressing priorities relating to the student experience.

Conservatoires UK welcomes recognition in REF2014 of its versatile and distinctive research culture, as we move forward to further collaborations and influential achievements.