Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list
The world’s first university impact ranking, published this month by Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, reveals a new hierarchy of global institutions based on universities’ work towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A look towards the third mission of universities, the ranking offers new insights on universities’ work towards gender equality, climate action and sustainable cities and communities, in total measured against the following 11 out of 17 SDGs.
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Featuring 551 universities from 80 countries and six continents, the ranking was done in three areas: research, outreach and stewardship.
At the top of the overall ranking is the University of Auckland, followed by two Canadian institutions – McMaster University and the University of British Columbia. Together with the University of Montreal on the 7th place, three Canadian institutions rank amongst the top-ten band. The other countries represented amongst the 10 top-scoring ones are the UK (University of Manchester and King’s College London, 3rd and 5th place respectively), Sweden (University of Gothenburg and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 6th and 7th), Italy (University of Bologna, 9th) and Hong Kong (University of Hong Kong, 10th).
Looking at the top-ten table, which also offers the universities’ position in the research-oriented 2019 World University Ranking, it is evident that none of the top-scoring universities in the area of impact scores higher than 36th position in WUR (University of Hong Kong). Having brought some reshuffling in the relatively fixed league tables of other world rankings, these rankings “offer an alternative view of university excellence”, said THE’s chief knowledge officer Phil Baty.
One of the represented countries in the top-ten chart, Sweden, was the host of a conference Rethinking Higher Education: Inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals in Stockholm. It was organised by the Karolinska Institute, with Gothenburg University, Chalmers University of Technology and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences as partners, with the aim to discuss how universities can integrate SDGs into higher education. It was attended by more than 500 participants, most of whom being students, teachers, researchers, administrative personnel, decision-makers and representatives from the business and government sectors.