Strategic Plan 2012 - 2017

Aim 2 - Research with excellence that makes an impact

Research with excellence that makes an impact: building on our research successes to make a difference by addressing global challenges and providing a way of understanding the future through the past.

Aberystwyth possesses a long and distinguished record of undertaking cutting edge research of international significance. Our research activity has been recognised as being world leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour. We are committed to building on this success over the next five years and are working towards a strong return in the Research Excellence Framework exercise in 2014 from which we can further build in the period to 2017. As a mid-sized university, inter-disciplinarity has been a natural occurrence for a number of years. We value the opportunity to engage with scholars across the world. Many of our departments have established partnership agreements with prestigious global partners. Building on this strength, the University is in the process of bringing departments together into Institutes with the aim of capitalising upon existing growth in inter and trans-disciplinarity at Aberystwyth and beyond.

We value innovation and excellence in all fields and disciplines and we are proud to be conducting research that addresses the major challenges society faces. We continue to make an impact in the fight against famine, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and disease. Collaborations between Aberystwyth and researchers in Africa and India are leading to breakthroughs in the fight against famine, with  the development of climate resistant crops. We actively contribute to international debates on global issues that affect us all, such as security, communications, cultural identity, literatures, histories and places.

We believe in the value of research that satisfies intellectual curiosity and takes risks, particularly research that cuts across disciplines and challenges pre-conceptions of subject boundaries. We have already invested in initiatives to bring researchers from across the University together to share ideas, including our Research Café, interdisciplinary gatherings focused on global challenges and responding to the priorities of the Science Strategy for Wales, Research Councils UK and Horizon 2020. Over the next five years we will assist academic staff to promote such opportunities and encourage joint working between academics of different disciplines. We will build on the outstanding success of the Aberystwyth and Bangor Research and Enterprise Partnership which has evolved into the Strategic Alliance, to nurture a collaborative approach to research.

We will invest in support for our researchers to ensure that the ground-breaking and excellent research carried out at Aberystwyth will thrive and grow and to increase the proportion of internationally significant research activity for the REF and the number and value of the research grants generated.

We will also invest in the future generation of researchers as part of our drive to further develop research-led teaching across the University. Over the next five years we will be making the growth and development of our graduate school a priority.
A vital element of this will be the development of a central space where postgraduates will have office and meeting facilities, allowing them to work together and foster an interdisciplinary community of new researchers.

Strategies for 2012-2017

  1. Investing in research that seeks solutions to global issues.
  2. Encouraging and supporting inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches, breaking down barriers between departments and encouraging more collaborative working between academics at Aberystwyth.
  3. Expanding and increasing the funding sources for our research.
  4. Expanding our postgraduate community and developing the Graduate School, to ensure that our postgraduates receive a professional research training which equips them for their future careers.
  5. Pursuing collaboration, nationally and globally.
  6. Enhancing our research support structures through both our dedicated research support office and colleagues in the Institutes.

Aberystwyth 2017

By 2017 we will: 

  • Have 60% of our research judged, in the Research Excellence Framework, as world leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • Achieve an uplift on our annual research grants awarded from £20m to £30m.
  • Support research so that 40% of our staff are engaged in funded research projects as principal or co-investigators.
  • Increase our number of postgraduate students by 250%.
  • Build on our successful research partnerships to create ten internationally-renowned research centres (two per year), beginning with Risk and Resilience, Remote Sensing and Environment, and Food and Water Security.