The University of Newcastle, Australia

An impressive new ERA

Monday, 7 December 2015

Last week we launched our NeW Futures Strategic Plan across the Faculties, Divisions and campuses of UON, prompting discussions on how UON is positioned as a global leader to address the challenges that lie ahead in the international and national higher education system.  In this context it was a high point at the end of a big week to receive the results of the 2015 national Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment.

Using a suite of rigorous metrics and peer review mechanisms, ERA provides an assessment of the quality of research in each major academic discipline area for work submitted by all universities in Australia. Research quality is measured against world standards and is assessed as 'at world standard' (a rating of 3), 'above' or 'well above world standard' (4 or 5 respectively) or 'below world standard' (1 or 2).

The significance  of the University of Newcastle's research was recognised by the award of the highest possible '5' rating across 22 fields of research, which places us in the top 8 Australian universities for research quality which is 'well above world standard'. Importantly, nine of these fields of research achieved a '5' rating in the ERA assessment for the first time since the beginning of the ERA assessments in 2010.

In our strongest ERA performance to date, 90 per cent of our research submitted (across 58 field of research codes) achieved a rating of world standard or above (3+).

Indeed, while we excelled in the '5' category particularly in the fields of engineering, science,  medicine and health, we are equally proud of the increase in the number of fields of research rated at 'above world standard' ('4') – increasing from 9 in 2012 to 16 in 2015. In this context, it was great to see disciplines in business, sociology and the humanities emerging as high performers in the 2015 ERA.

It is important to note that we share this success with researchers from all of our campuses – Callaghan, Ourimbah, Sydney, Singapore and Port Macquarie.  The results also highlight the importance of the strong culture of support developed by our professional staff.

Some of the many highlights across our faculties include:

Faculty of Business and Law

  • The Faculty achieved a '4' rating in Business and Management and in Marketing.
  • Law was also rated at '3' i.e. at world standard– its first rating in ERA.

Faculty of Education and Arts

  • There has been an increase in the number of fields of research achieving a rating of '4' in FEDUA including history, sociology, literary studies and religion and religious studies.

Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment

  • Civil Engineering and the Electrical and Electronic Engineering disciplines have achieved a '5' rating across all three ERA assessments carried out since 2010.
  • UON is one of two universities to achieve a rating of '5' in Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy.

Faculty of Health and Medicine

  • Ten of 13 of our fields of research in Medical and Health Sciences were awarded a '5' rating, with many achieving this status for the first time - including Nursing, Pharmacology, Pediatrics and Reproductive Medicine, and Public Health, demonstrating why we have achieved a strong international reputation for the medical and health science research which is carried out on our campuses.

Faculty of Science and IT

  • Eight '5' ratings were achieved including one of only three of the '5' ratings achieved for Cognitive Science in the country.

Colleagues can review the overall ERA results here.

We can all be extremely proud of our 2015 ERA assessment and this is a great note to end another outstanding year at UON. It is also the case, however, that many universities in the sector have also had major improvements in their ERA rankings and that maintaining our competitive positioning will require the implementation of the key lead strategies outlined in the NeW Futures Plan – particularly in 2016.

While many of us will continue to pour over the ERA results in the coming months- given their importance in the recruitment of staff and students from the region and across the world –we also welcome the release of the Federal Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) released today. Our NeW Futures plan has identified a set of lead strategies for the continued growth of excellence, interdisciplinary research and education, innovation and entrepreneurship at UON which together will provide a strong foundation for UON to continue its role as a global leader which delivers world class innovation and impact in our regions, Australia and beyond.


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