Strongest physics performance in HEFCE Impact Pilot
21 January 2011
LJMU’s Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) revealed the strongest performance in its area in the Higher Education Funding Council for England's pilot impact assessment exercise. This was the first official attempt to measure the impact of academics' research.
ARI was chosen as one of five "Exemplars" of the impact of excellent research on the wider society in this Research Excellence Framework (REF) Impact pilot. It scored the highest physics rating with a 40 per cent 4* and 45 per cent 3* impact profile.
Talking to Times Higher Education about the results, Professor David Carter, LJMU Professor of Observational Astronomy, said he believed HEFCE had found a sensible and proportionate approach to the agenda, but warned that it was difficult to gather impact evidence retrospectively. Professor Carter emphasised the importance of considering and recording the impact of your research as it takes place.
The LJMU case study described the role of the ARI in setting up and supporting Spaceport, a visitor attraction owned and operated by Mersey Ferries at Seacombe on the banks of the Mersey. A partnership between LJMU and Mersey Ferries, Spaceport grew out of the desire to extend our engagement strategy to a wider audience and, in particular, to explore the breadth of astronomical research and knowledge with a family audience.
Combining the research experience and knowledge of LJMU with the tourism credentials of Mersey Ferries has led to an attraction that regularly exceeds visitor number predictions (currently at 100,000 per year) and brings considerable income into a regeneration area.
The continuing partnership between LJMU and Mersey Ferries has allowed the Centre to remain informed and influenced by the latest in research and has led to further developments including special events designed to further extend the audience (eg, for amateur astronomers or schools from inner-city areas).
The full text of the five "Exemplar" case studies from universities across the UK is published on the HEFCE REF Impact pilot website