We will focus on building our research excellence under the broad interdisciplinary themes of inclusive societies, healthy lives and sustainable environments to enhance the impact of our research outputs.

The transfer of the knowledge we produce through research aids economic growth and wealth creation. It helps develop innovative technologies and practice-based interventions, contributes to better public policy, social and cultural understanding and the advancement of social justice. 

Research Strategy 2020

GCU’s commitment to the common good is realised in applied research which addresses three major societal challenges, enabling communities in the UK and internationally to build inclusive societies and live healthy lives in sustainable environments.

GCU’s research reflects the strengths of our three academic schools and our specialist centres, the Centre for Climate Justice, Centre for Living and the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health.

GCU is the top modern university in Scotland by research power, following the Research Excellence Framework 2014. As one of the UK’s top 20 universities for allied health research and built environment research impact, GCU shares its expertise and knowledge for the benefit of others. Our social policy impact at world-leading levels ranks the University as in the top 10 in the UK.

By 2020, GCU aims to have 25% academics presenting a portfolio of work judged to be internationally excellent or world leading.

Our research strengths include preventing healthcare associated infections, preventing prolapse, developing custom foot orthoses, high voltage condition monitoring, innovative manufacturing processes, construction safety, technology for health and wellbeing, improving gender equality and history.

Healthy lives

GCU’s health research activities resulted in excellent outcomes from the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. The results highlighted our impacts in increasing HIV testing among vulnerable populations; safeguarding health through infection prevention; promoting effective treatments for women with prolapse; and developing personalised foot orthoses. Overall, the University is ranked in the top 20 in the UK for allied health research at world-leading and internationally excellent standards.

GCU’s Healthy Lives research spans public health and long-term conditions, with collaborative and interdisciplinary research activity in areas including healthy ageing; the management of conditions such as stroke, MS and diabetes; HIV testing and sexual health; addictions, violence and public risk.

Our research teams work corroboratively with the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, the NHS, Health Protection Scotland and the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit to improve the health and wellbeing of communities worldwide.

The Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health aims to transform the lives of the poorest through pioneering research examining the relationship between social business and health improvement.

The Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit is jointly hosted by GCU and the University of Stirling and is a national unit funded directly by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office, with expertise in the development and implementation of large scale trials of complex NMAHP interventions; expertise in systematic reviews and in the design and successful completion of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and cluster randomised trials (CRT).

GCU-led research has reduced avoidable infections in healthcare in the UK and Europe by stimulating policy debate and investment in new healthcare practice and influencing policy decisions, evidence guidelines, and educational practices. Researchers have also established pelvic floor muscle training as an effective treatment for women with prolapse and incontinence.

GCU research in the area of sedentary behaviour is significant, including an MRC-funded collaborative project bringing together internationally-recognised multidisciplinary expertise in a range of areas such as active ageing, sedentary behaviour and physical activity/inactivity to inform future interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity in older people.

GCU researchers are leading one of Europe’s largest ever investigations into the diagnosis and treatment of knee osteoarthritis, a painful condition which affects around 500,000 people in Scotland, including one in five people over the age of 50.

Inclusive societies

GCU’s research in the area of Inclusive Societies includes social innovation, and equalities and justice. This research has had a significant impact on improving gender equality, the development of new interventions for domestic abuse offenders, and challenging perceptions of poverty. GCU draws upon internationally recognised expertise in sociology, criminology, feminist economics, international development, politics, social policy, business and management, health and inequalities.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results showed that GCU’s research impact in the area of social policy is top ten in the UK. Almost two-thirds of GCU’s social work and social policy overall submission was rated world-leading and internationally excellent.

Researchers have expertise in researching the role of the police in rape and sexual offence cases and in analysing the links between alcohol, football and domestic violence.

80% of GCU’s history research impact, focused on social justice and health history, is world-leading and internationally excellent, while 80% of GCU’s communication, cultural and media studies impact is world-leading and internationally excellent.

Researchers are currently part of a major €2.5m European research project analysing the impact of the international economic crisis on groups which are most affected by socio-economic policy, such as immigrants, the unemployed or disabled.

TransSOL (European paths to transnational solidarity at times of crisis) is a research project spanning the UK, Denmark, Poland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Greece and Italy, funded by the new €80bn Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme.

The three-year project will ascertain the effects of the financial and economic crisis on national indifference, populism, xenophobia and other societal challenges through analysis of the activities of civil organisations, policy makers and citizens.

Sustainable environments

Our research activities in Sustainable Environments resulted in excellent outcomes from the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. The results highlighted our impacts in driving sustainable waste management practices in Scotland, while a series of projects has helped set the agenda for the refurbishment of historic buildings.

GCU’s work has also had a significant impact on construction industry guidance and practice regarding the occupational safety and health duties of planning and worker communications. Research in the built environment performed strongly overall in the UK, with impact in this area rated as top 20 in the UK combining world-leading and internationally excellent research submissions.

GCU’s researchers support sustainable environments through a number of long-standing research partnerships with large industrial companies. The Doble Innovation Centre for On-line Systems at GCU was opened after the signing of a new partnership agreement with the multinational engineering firm in 2013. Researchers are also working with SPT and SST Sensing on innovative sustainable solutions through the collaborative grant scheme, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP).

Researchers are also tackling poor water quality standards in Brazil, where there is considerable concern about the long-term impact of water pollution on ecosystems and human health. 

Reduction of pollution and river water quality improvement has become a major focus in the management of water resources internationally. Improved analytical capabilities and ecotoxicological understanding have highlighted new threats to water quality, including micropollutants in the form of pharmaceutical residues and industrial chemicals.

GCU is working with the Universidade Federal do ABC in São Paulo and Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná in Curitiba to collaborate on a cross-disciplinary project which draws together environmental science, (waste) water engineering, eco-toxicological analysis, and stakeholder engagement expertise. The GCU team will be led by Professor Ole Pahl and Dr Paul Teedon.

With funding from the British Council’s official development assistance programme, the researchers aim to develop effective scientific methods and direct engagement with key Brazilian stakeholders to inform debates for the improvement of river-basin management and of water quality.

Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health

Subsequent to the visit of Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus to GCU in 2008 to deliver the first Magnusson Lecture, the University established the Yunus Centre and Chair in Professor Yunus’s name.

The Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health is undertaking pioneering research into the relationship between social business and health improvement.

The first holder of the new Yunus Chair in Social Business and Health was announced in early 2010. Professor Cam Donaldson, one of the world's foremost health economists is the founding Yunus Professor at GCU. As Yunus Chair, he leads a unique research programme evaluating the impact of social business creation on the lives and health of disadvantaged communities in Glasgow and overseas.

Our work in this area focuses on researching the potential for microcredit to act as a health creator and generator of wellbeing. This brings a new ‘determinants of health’ perspective to the microcredit research field.

The Centre also researches the potential for social business to act as a health creator and generator of wellbeing.  

Thirdly, we conduct research on the development and application of methods of economic evaluation as applied to healthcare priority setting and assessment of specific interventions in various settings.

Centre for Living

GCU’s Centre for Living brings together world-leading health-related research, advanced learning and teaching programmes, and the provision of specialised social health care through community partnerships.

The Centre for Living, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, is co-located with a new “teach-and-treat” facility, the Caledonian Clinic, which will provide patient care and offer advice to a range of stakeholders. The core of the Centre’s activity will focus on enhancing the lives of people with chronic health conditions as well as developing and evaluating public health and lifestyle interventions.

Healthy lives is the largest area of research at GCU and although the Centre for Living will be based at the School of Health and Life Sciences, it will also draw on major research being conducted in the University’s other Schools and the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health.

Longer-term plans include creating a dedicated Centre for Living building to bring together all of GCU’s health-related research activity – including areas of excellence in fields such as ageing, musculoskeletal health, nutrition, sexual health and alcohol wellbeing – under one roof. Learning and teaching would be co-located with research within the new Centre for Living which would also become the permanent home for the Caledonian Clinic.

Centre for Climate Justice

GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice places social and environmental justice at the heart of research, education and advocacy in the field of climate change.

It is a research centre with expertise in the management of natural resources in developing countries, the effects of climate change on agriculture and food security, consumerism and impacts of globalisation on environmental sustainability, and gender and poverty work in the agricultural sector of developing countries.

GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice, led by Professor Tahseen Jafry, has secured funding from the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund to help improve access to water among the poorest and most vulnerable groups in Malawi and Zambia.

The 18-month £600,000 Water for ALL project aims to help build sustainable capacity in achieving equity and entitlement in accessing water. GCU is working with the Centre for Social Research at the University of Malawi, and the University of Lusaka on the project.

The governments of Malawi and Zambia recognise that global climate change has serious implications for their countries. A number of frameworks and policies are set to promote sustainable water resources management and facilitate the equitable provision of adequate quantity and quality water.

The Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund is also supporting GCU’s work as part of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, to encourage communities in Malawi to replace dangerous and costly kerosene lamps, batteries and candles with environmentally friendly solar lighting that helps families to tackle poverty.

Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group includes GCU, Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) and charity SolarAid, which runs a social enterprise in Malawi.

The Centre for Climate Justice was also awarded significant funding from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) for an analysis of gender relations in South Asia and the development of guidelines for gender responsive wheat based systems.

International development experts regularly gather at GCU for stakeholder events to gather the best evidence to inform work in the area of climate justice.

Award-winning research

GCU won the Research Project of the Year award at the inaugural Herald Higher Education Awards for its submission for research in 3D printed personalised foot orthotics.

GCU’s research through the £3m EU-funded A-Footprint project has beneficially impacted on patients’ health and wellbeing as new 3D-printed orthoses have been designed and produced, as well as helping to enhance the reputation of the institution through the achievement of ‘Flagship’ project status by the European Commission.

Disabling foot and ankle conditions affect approximately 200 million European citizens. Over £230m per annum is spent treating many of these people with orthoses and splints, often relying on hand-crafted manufacturing techniques which are slow, costly and difficult to reproduce. With an increasingly ageing population and a growing health burden in long-term conditions, the global market for custom foot orthoses continues to grow.

Following the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), GCU was ranked in the top 20 in the UK for allied health research at world-leading and internationally excellent standards.

The Herald Higher Education Awards, in association with the University of the West of Scotland, were launched in March to recognise the outstanding contribution made by colleges and universities across Scotland.

Supported by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), City of Glasgow College, technology provider Jisc, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Scotland (QAA) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the awards also examine how colleges and universities market themselves, use technology, engage with employers, support students and promote economic sustainability.