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Research at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig highly commended in national audit

The outcomes from an assessment of research at higher education institutions in the UK were published this week, and researchers from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, which formed part of a submission from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), were among those to receive the highest grade for their work. 

UHI submitted the work of 81 researchers for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) with eight in Celtic and Gaelic studies. Of those, seven were from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, with the eighth being a Soillse researcher from Lews Castle College. 61% of the Gaelic research submission was awarded the highest ratings, with 16% judged to be exceptional/world-leading and 45%  internationally excellent. Another 33% was assessed as very good.

The four UK higher education funding bodies undertake the REF assessments and they will use the assessment outcomes to inform the selective allocation of their research funding to higher education institutions, with effect from 2015-16.

This was only the second time that Sabhal Mòr’s research was assessed. A Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) was carried out in 2008, when four researchers from Sabhal Mòr were put forward for scrutiny. There has been a significant increase in both the volume and esteem of the research being carried out at Sabhal Mòr since then. The research environment has been strengthened through large national projects, such as Soillse, Window to the West, and the Dictionary of the Scottish Gaelic Language.

The Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “These results are exceptionally good and show the progress made in research and scholarship since the last audit. Taken along with the reviews of teaching at the College conducted earlier this year, they demonstrate the quality of the educational provision here and the benefits students can derive from being educated by such skilled lecturers and researchers”

John N. MacLeod, Director of Studies, said: “We are extremely proud of all our research staff and there has been a significant increase in research activity and outputs under the leadership of Dr Gillian Munro, with support from Prof Richard Cox and other members of SMO research committees. The partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands is very important and we are delighted that UHI has achieved such commendable results overall in the REF.”

Deputy Head of Education, Dr Gillian Munro, commented: “This is wonderful recognition from national experts of our research work. We will build on these great results in the next assessment exercise, in five years’ time. We aim to improve support for our research staff and to grow a new generation of researchers, both at UHI and in Scotland as a whole. The Soillse project will have an important part to play in achieving this.”

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