The Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training (CREST) provides an innovative model of institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration to further research excellence. Our guiding premise is that quality researchers and excellent research should be recognised and funded, wherever they are found.

The Consortium is not based on discipline or geography. Member institutions are typified by a specialist focus, a developing research environment, and an enthusiasm for co-creating projects and shared services. Together they achieve a critical mass of research activity and influence not achievable on their own.

Over time the consortium and GuildHE have developed partnerships with sector bodies and external stakeholders, particularly important given the key role played by the specialised, translational, entrepreneurial and socially innovative research undertaken at CREST member institutions.

CREST was established in 2010 by GuildHE, one of the two recognised representative bodies for higher education in the UK, to build on the ‘islands of excellence’ identified through the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008. Originally supported by pump-priming from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), it is now fully funded by member subscriptions.

The Consortium is led by CREST Director, Professor Peter Childs, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Newman University, and the Research Group of Directors of Research (or equivalent roles) at our member institutions. The network is managed by Rachel Persad, Policy Manager (Research & Innovation) at GuildHE.


Our activities

Policy intelligence and influence

We act as a repository and disseminator of information about UK, EU and international research policy relevant to its members, and responds to consultations on their behalf. We have long standing relationships with key stakeholders, including Research England and UK Research & Innovation, Wellcome Trust, government departments, and Universities UK International.

GuildHE is a supporter of initiatives to further excellence in research and integrity in research practice, including the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers; the Concordat to Support Research Integrity; and the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research. Through our research consortium, GuildHE helps to facilitate implementation and the sharing of best practice with respect to such sector-wide research policy initiatives.


Collaborative Projects

We initiate new opportunities for research-active staff and postgraduate research students to work together, and engage with other sectors and the public, to generate new knowledge. A good example of this work is the CREST Sandpit Match Event which has generated two interdisciplinary projects applying new technologies to health, specifically dementia, and education.

Our network of institutions provides the opportunity for researchers to present specialist research to a diverse audience, access to peer reviewers of, and potential collaborators for, developing grant applications and research proposals. We offer a bursary scheme to facilitate mobility of researchers between our member institutions.


Training for Postgraduate Research Students and Early Stage Researchers

We provide access to shared training opportunities for doctoral students and for early stage researchers, both online and in person. Our flagship Summer School began in 2013. We are proud to have diverse partners for our training, including the British Library, Wellcome Collections and Library, the Crafts Council, Ipsos Mori, the Design Council, NCCPE and Vitae.

Our provision uniquely acknowledges and makes accomodation for the diversity of researchers at our institutions. The typical research student is likely to have previous career experience, be a member of academic or professional staff, or be returning to research later in their lives. They therefore have a range of identities and roles at the institution and in their personal lives which are not well served by the models for postgraduate and early career support that exist elsewhere in the sector.


Research Management and Infrastructure

We provide intelligence and support for institutions to prepare their submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), and applications for Research Degree Awarding Powers (RDAP). Our forums for research leaders and repository managers generate an active community of practice where learning and best practice is shared.

The consortium works with a range of suppliers to provide shared services, including an Open Access Outputs Repository, access to the Researcher Development Framework Planner, and Vertigo Ventures Impact Tracker.