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AMBS strengthens its position as a leading business school for research

Alliance Manchester Business School is placed third in the UK for research power(1) – which measures the quality and scale of research impact – in the UK government’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

The major national exercise to evaluate research activity was last held in 2014. The University of Manchester made one of the largest and broadest REF submissions in the UK, entering 2,249 eligible researchers across 31 subject areas. AMBS made the third largest submission within the University with 182 researchers included.

REF ranks research from ‘world-leading’ (4*) and ‘internationally excellent’ (3*) to ‘nationally recognised’ (1*) and ‘unclassified’ (U or 0).  A Grade Point Average (2) (GPA) metric measures the overall quality of research.

Overall result

  • Overall, 91% of AMBS research activity was assessed as 4*and 3*.
  • Based on the overall GPA measure, AMBS moved up from 18th in 2014 to 8th in the UK in 2021.


The evaluation encompasses the quality of research publications and other outputs which makes up 60% of the overall REF score.

  • 88% of AMBS papers submitted were judged to be 4* and 3*.
  • The GPA moved the School up from 29th in 2014 to 15th in 2021.


Research impact accounts for 25% of the REF score and AMBS performed particularly well for its submission of 10 impact case studies which highlighted how our research is making a difference to policy, business and society.

  • 95% of impact case study outputs were rated 4* and 3*.
  • GPA in this area moved from 35th in 2014 to 5th in 2021.


This metric assesses the extent to which the School provides an environment and culture in which researchers can excel. This accounts for 15% of the overall REF score.

  • AMBS achieved 100% 4* and 3* in this area.
  • GPA in this area moved from 6th in 2014 to 4th in 2021

Collective success

Professor Fiona Devine, Head of Alliance Manchester Business School, said: “These excellent results reflect the hard work of all our colleagues.  This is a huge collective success of which we are all proud. 

“As a Russell Group university, research is absolutely core to our institution alongside teaching and social responsibility, and these results reaffirm our reputation for world-leading research.”

Global powerhouse

REF 2021 confirmed The University of Manchester as a research powerhouse, retaining 5th place for research power. Overall, 93% of the University’s research activity was assessed as 4* or 3*.

The University ranked in 8th place in terms of GPA, an improvement from 17th in the previous REF exercise.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: "These comprehensive and independent results confirm Manchester's place as a global powerhouse of research. 

“We create an environment where researchers can thrive and exchange ideas. Most importantly, the quality and impact of our research is down to the incredible dedication and creativity of our colleagues who work every day to solve significant world problems, enrich our society and train the next generation of researchers.

“The fact that our REF results are accompanied by examples of the real difference we’ve made in the world, all driven from this city makes me very proud.”

*Detailed results can be viewed on the University website.

(1): Research Power is calculated by grade point average, multiplied by the number of FTE staff submitted (FTE - full-time equivalent head count) and gives a measure of scale and quality. Grade Point Average (GPA) measures overall or average quality of research, which takes no account of the FTE submitted.

(2): Grade point average is a measure of the overall or average quality of research calculated by multiplying the percentage of research in each grade by its rating, adding them all together and dividing by 100.