Learned Society of Wales showcases the transformative power of Welsh university research

The Learned Society of Wales (LSW) has today unveiled a groundbreaking report that provides a snapshot of research being undertaken at Welsh universities and the positive impact it is having on people.

LSW commissioned King’s College London to produce ‘The impacts of research from Welsh universities’, an analysis of 280 impact case studies submitted to the Research Excellence Framework in 2021 (REF 2021). This analysis shines a light on the many ways in which research from Welsh universities enhances local communities and makes a difference across the world.

The Making an Impact’ report provides a dynamic and high-level overview of the core findings. It highlights the extraordinary achievements driven by research, offering real-life examples that demonstrate how Welsh university research continues to significantly impact lives in Wales and across the globe.

The report, funded in collaboration with the Higher Education Funding Council, Welsh Government and Wales Innovation Network, unveils a range of findings, underscoring the depth and breadth of contributions made by Welsh university research. An impressive quarter of the research impact benefitted children and young people, but it doesn’t stop there. There are a total of 25 different groups of people that benefitted from the impact of Welsh research, from families to carers, policy-makers to the elderly. A local focus is evident as 70% of the reported research has had a direct impact within Wales. Yet, the global reach is undeniable, with over 60% extending internationally to countries such as Australia, China, Norway, and Japan, emphasising the global significance and demonstrating the expansive reach of our Welsh universities.

On the economic front, a third of the case studies illustrated the tangible financial outcomes of Welsh research showing how our universities, working with industry partners, can fuel economic progression. When considering partnership working, a remarkable 94% of the case studies underlined the role of external partnerships, from international organisations to charities, and business to government, underscoring the interconnected nature of research. The report also identifies the significant drive towards improving processes and practices, with 85% of the case studies citing enhancements in key sectors, notably health, education, and public administration.

Professor Hywel Thomas, President of the Learned Society of Wales, commented on the report’s findings: “This analysis underlines the monumental role of Welsh universities in fostering research and innovation and reshaping the fabric of society. Not only does it demonstrate the commitment and expertise of our academic community, but it also reflects LSW’s steadfast belief in knowledge’s transformative power to benefit Wales and beyond. As the UK looks forward to full association with the Horizon Europe programme, we are optimistic about the increased collaborative opportunities and the potential for even greater societal advancement in the future.”

The Learned Society of Wales reaffirms its mission to champion the role of research in solving global challenges and emphasises the long-term nature of research as a dedicated journey towards real world impact.