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NUA praised for world leading research

Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) has been recognised for its outstanding research. The 2014 national research audit – referred to as the Research Excellence Framework (REF) – published this week recognised 19% of NUA research as ‘world leading’ and 36% as ‘internationally excellent’.

NUA’s research has been judged to be particularly successful in terms of its impact on the broader cultural and economic landscape: 40% of NUA research has been classified as ‘world leading’ and 50% as ‘internationally excellent’.

Vice-Chancellor Professor John Last comments: “This exercise shows significant progress since the last national review of research and has confirmed the international significance of our work – it is a real credit to our staff. We shall build on this further to contribute to national and international research over the next few years.”

The work of the researchers at NUA submitted for consideration in REF2014 included outstanding outputs and case studies in the areas of art practice, media, history and theory in art and design. The portfolio included seminal studies on the history of portraiture, and jewellery and gem stones; a new translation of a lost Surrealist classic (Gherasim Luca’s The Passive Vampire); collaborations between artists and scientists using fine art and bio-imaging techniques and technologies to reveal the interiors of living organisms; expositions on Norman Bel Geddes’ design studio (undertaken in partnership with galleries in Texas and New York City); a series of artworks and artefacts exploring the interplay of games and art; articles focusing on the relationship between war, consumer cultures and the media; theoretical inquiries centred on textile creation; and a series of films exploring the relationship between animation and poetry.

REF 2014 also saw the introduction of a new area of assessment – ‘impact’ – that allowed NUA to showcase some of its staff’s most expansive and far-reaching research projects to date. EASTinternational has, since 1991, been pivotal in introducing new talent to the art scene; the 2009 iteration of the exhibition considered a diverging range of capitalist and anti-capitalist ideological influences, touring to Norwich, Krakow and Budapest. ‘Picasso Peace and Freedom’ attracted huge numbers of visitors to the Tate Liverpool, the Albertina Vienna and the Louisiana Denmark, and led to the offshoot project ‘Picasso in Palestine’; it also attracted significant attention from the international press and afforded the opportunity for a new generation to engage in debate and discussion about the relationship between art and politics.

Professor Julian Malins, Director of Research, notes: “NUA has done exceptionally well in this exercise. One interesting aspect of this result has been the recognition of practice-based research. This is a particular strength of the research community at NUA and something that will continue to grow in importance over the next few years. NUA research has always had, and will continue to have, international significance, as well as local and national impact, providing new insights and challenging our assumptions.”

REF2014 key facts

  • 154 UK universities took part. They made 1,911 submissions for: 52,077 academic staff, 191,232 research outputs, 6,975 impact case studies
  • 36 expert sub-panels reviewed the submissions, overseen by four main panels
  • around £2 billion per year of research funding will be allocated on the basis of the results
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