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Bournemouth University research has been recognised as “world leading” in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) announced today. The REF assesses the quality and impact of UK higher education institutions’ research in all disciplines and the results are used to allocate research funding for universities and colleges from next year.

BU submitted to eight subject units, with 96% of Bournemouth University’s research rated at an international level, with 18% of that deemed to be world leading. Research at BU has grown substantially since the 2008 research assessment, with an increase of 33 per cent in research ranked as world leading or internationally excellent. The number of staff submitted has also increased by 45.5 per cent.

Professor John Vinney, BU’s Vice-Chancellor, said:

“This assessment of research differs from the last time we were assessed in 2008 as it now also measures the “impact” of our research. This is a measurement of how research helps improve society and it is very much at the heart of what we do at BU. We have invested heavily in our research at BU and I am delighted that this has been recognised by our improved assessment with the REF.”

The assessment recognised BU as a leading university in both the UK, and south west region.  Tourism was rated as first in the UK based on internationally recognised research. Art and design was ranked as first in the south west based on world leading research, and communication, cultural and media studies was rated as first in the south west based on its world leading research.

BU was also 4th out of 11 universities in the southwest for our world-leading impact, behind Bristol, Bath and Exeter.

One of the examples from BU’s REF submission was our economic modelling research, which benefits society, businesses and governments.

Modelling created by economists at Bournemouth University has been used to predict the effects of events, policy changes and economic decisions, which has created invaluable data for businesses and governments alike. Armed with reliable information has allowed both to plot a course of action, rather than reacting to events.

Professor Adam Blake worked with the Scottish Government to estimate the value of wildlife tourism in Scotland.  The modelling showed that wildlife tourism contributed £65 million to Scottish gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009, and over 2,700 jobs.  Professor Blake’s research prompted VisitScotland to name 2013 the ‘Year of Natural Scotland’, to capitalise on its appeal as a tourist destination.

BlurBU’s art and design research, including computer animation, was ranked first in the south west, based on internationally recognised research. One example from our REF submission was Dr Ian Stephenson’s work into improving motion blur in animated films.

Researchers at Bournemouth University developed a new method of improving motion blur in filming, thus producing higher quality images without any penalty in rendering time.  The method was implemented by Pixar and is now regularly used in major feature films, making a significant contribution to improving viewer experience.

Motion blur is the effect which occurs when objects are filmed at speed or during a long exposure and can appear to make objects look streaky.  In digital animation, creating images with no motion blur is quite straightforward, but the end result is an image which looks unnatural compared to those shot with a real camera.  This means that motion blur needs to be added in again in order to create a more realistic image.

Techniques to add in motion blur had been largely unchanged for over twenty years, until research from Bournemouth University led to a significant modification in practice.  Previous techniques, reflected that the camera captures light over time, but did not taken into account the time needed for the shutter to open and close.  By incorporating the slow physical movement of a real shutter into computer graphics rendering software, images which are much more closely matched to that of a real camera can be produced.

Different elements of BU’s research activity were assessed, including the quality of publications, the research environment – including funding, PhD completions and facilities – and the impact the research has on society.

Originally published on BU News.

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