WestCHEM Success in first Research Excellence Framework

The result from the first UK-wide Research Excellence Framework (REF) has consolidated WestCHEM’s position as one of the leading chemistry research schools in the UK.  

WestCHEM, the joint research school formed by Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities as part of the Scottish pooling initiative, has had 94% of its research rated as internationally excellent or internationally leading.

The school is now ranked 4th in the UK out of 35 submissions in the REF-2014 listing as judged by the GPA-Power Ranking. This is particularly impressive as 89% of our academic staff were included. The GPA-Power Ranking is a combination of the quality of research using the grade point average and the size of the unit in terms of the FTE assessed.

Chemistry Schools in Scotland dominate two of the top four places in the UK REF-2104 GPA-Power Ranking with EaStCHEM and WestCHEM taking 2nd and 4th places. Oxford and Cambridge Universities were placed 1st and 3rd respectively from 35 submissions.

Performance improvement

The improvement in performance from the last RAE in 2008 has been substantial, with the rise in the rankings reflecting the position of WestCHEM as a world-respected research school.

The two WestCHEM universities are working together to find solutions to key challenges in areas of economic importance – including power and energy, health and manufacturing – and helping companies compete globally.

Both partners are strongly committed to this pioneering research school and continue to support WestCHEM in pursuit of its mission of international excellence in chemical research.

WestCHEM highlights

Notable highlights for WestCHEM over the last six years include numerous individual awards to staff in both the UK and internationally, including Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Awards, elections to Royal Society of Edinburgh Fellowship (FRSE), and many Royal Society of Chemistry prizes and awards.

WestCHEM also has an enviable track record of converting research findings into meaningful impact, including the design of new methods for drug delivery, new catalytic processes in chemical synthesis to produce economic and environmental benefits and a unique methodology to predict new drug target sites. 

Head of the Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry at Strathclyde, Professor John Murphy commented:

“This has been a great step forward for WestCHEM in terms of the recognition of the overall quality of our research and importantly recognises our significant contribution to society by translation of our research into meaningful applications.”

Head of the School of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, Professor Stephen Clark, added:

“The REF result for WestCHEM is outstanding especially since we submitted nearly all of our staff. The result is even more remarkable as we have recruited a very large number of young staff who are just embarking on their independent research careers. The future is clearly very bright for WestCHEM.”

The WestCHEM success story

Established in July 2005, and funded under a Scottish Funding Council initiative supported by the partner Universities, the WestCHEM Research School absorbs the research activities of the Departments of Chemistry at the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow, in the city of Glasgow.

It provides the vehicle for a sustainable internationally excellent Research School in Chemical Sciences, and operates both in the core areas of chemistry and at interfaces with biological, medicinal, physical and materials sciences.

Currently comprising 66 academic staff and more than 240 PhD research students, WestCHEM encompasses a critical mass of academic researchers and plays a key role in advancing the next generation of excellent investigators.   

The WestCHEM investment has helped provide state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities, as well as allowing the recruitment of world-leading academics into the Chair positions in both institutions.