Royal Agricultural University comes ‘top of its class’ for working with industry

27 September 2023

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has scored top marks for its work with industry and the public sector in a survey of 139 English universities and institutes published today.

In the 2023 Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), the RAU, which was part of the STEM cluster of 12 small specialist universities in medicine, technology, science, and engineering, and which also included world-leading medical research institutes and specialist technology universities, gained the highest aggregate score alongside the Royal Veterinary College.

Professor Mark Horton, the RAU’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said: “To come top of our cluster in these rankings is a real accolade to our staff and students.

“The RAU sets out to be relevant to the needs of modern society. With the climate and ecological emergencies, how we manage the land and produce food for the world is one of the most pressing societal issues of our time.

“The RAU is at the forefront of this research and how this knowledge can be applied by innovators and industry and we are really pleased to have had our work recognised in this way.”

The RAU was particularly commended for its graduate start-ups, professional training, and co-authorship with industry of innovation and discovery. Half of the Cirencester-based University’s activities were ranked as very high or high engagement with industry and the public sector.

The results are an improvement on last year’s results, when the RAU came second overall in its cluster. The year’s exercise employed more criteria while the number of institutions in the STEM cluster also increased.

This accolade comes at a time when the University is developing a world-leading Innovation Village on a 29-acre site at its campus at Cirencester which will host leading industrial partners who wish to work with the academics and scientists in addressing how we manage the land in a sustainable and climate friendly way.

RAU researchers have been awarded £1.4 million in research grants in the past year to develop their scientific investigations into land use and agriculture – the University’s most successful year.

In a parallel exercise, the 2021 Research Assessment Framework (REF), which reported in May 2022, commended more than half the RAU’s research as world leading and internationally excellent. This result marked a significant improvement for the University, making it the most improved university in the country.

RAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery said: “The RAU contributes more than £50m to the local and regional economy and the outcomes of this year’s KEF confirms that we continue to punch above our weight in the services we offer businesses, the provision of continuous professional development (CPD), our support for graduate start-ups and the intellectual property and research contract income we generate.

“We are delighted to have been recognised as a sector-leading university in the STEM subject cluster. It is testament to the RAU’s aspiration to be a great local university and to our commitment to the local and regional business and civic community – to making a real difference in people’s lives.”