Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama announces its results in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), which were this week released to Higher Education Institutions across the UK. Central is delighted to announce that its overall profile, In terms of its percentage of world-leading (4*) research, is the highest of all the assessed drama and music conservatoires in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

154 UK universities took part in the REF across all subjects, making 1,911 submissions for: 52,077 academic staff, 191,232 research outputs and 6,975 impact case studies. 36 expert sub-panels reviewed the submissions, overseen by four main panels. 

Central’s research was submitted to subpanel 35 for Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts and was scored for Environment, Impact, and Output (see definitions below) which were then calibrated to comprise the overall profile (for which Central fell within the top 10 when all institutions researching Drama subjects nationally were accounted for).  Central scored particularly well in terms of its impact, with 86.7% classed as 4*, the designation for research that is “world leading”.  (The subject area average for impact was 38.8 %.)

Of the results, Professor Gavin Henderson CBE, Principal of Central, said:

“We are very pleased that the quality of research at Central has been recognised so highly in the results of the REF just announced. This assessment across the whole Higher Education sector in the UK is a penetrating peer group exercise. Recognition of the impact of our research in many aspects of the theatrical arts and creative industries is particularly heartening. Central’s research culture was established only a decade ago, by Professor Simon Shepherd, as the School joined the federation of the University of London. For the last five years, he has been joined by Professor Robin Nelson as our Director of Research. I wish to congratulate them both, and all the staff whose research was entered for this exercise, in taking Central to the pinnacle of the sector as a world leading centre for research in the dramatic arts.”

As a part of the REF, Central submitted for assessment the Output of more than 20 of its researchers, double the number submitted in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.  Three impact case studies were put forward for review based on the research of three members of its senior academic staff: Professor Ross Brown, Dr Catherine McNamara and Amanda Stuart Fisher. Always historically close to real-world theatre industries and practitioners, Central has built on these relationships to develop a culture that emphasises impact.  Between them, the case studies show how this impact approach was developed and put into practice.

Founded by Elsie Fogerty as The Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art in 1906, Central’s history is rooted in the social importance of education, teacher training, and the advancement of the study of theatre as an academic discipline. In 2005, the School was granted degree awarding powers by the Privy Council and named the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s designated Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre. 2005 also marked the School’s transition to a College of the University of London, thus embedding it within an internationally recognised community of research excellence.

As a researching specialist college, Central has sought both to change the practices of the theatre industries and to develop the use of theatre techniques in ways that benefit wider communities. It has drawn on its historical legacy to model a range of relationships between industry and higher education and has aimed to develop within the professional theatre community a new respect for higher education and especially research. It has enabled new communities, within the UK and beyond, to benefit from theatre work and has strived to build a bridge between the Academy and the creative industries.

Further information about the outcome of the REF and its impact on future funding allocations will be released in early 2015.

We are very pleased that the quality of research at Central has been recognised so highly in the results of the REF just announced... Recognition of the impact of our research in many aspects of the theatrical arts and creative industries is particularly heartening.

- Professor Gavin Henderson CBE, Principal of Central