Universities move towards global sustainability goals

Posted by Semestry

With the future of young people in its hands, higher education is at the heart of the global drive for sustainability, and things are improving, as the latest Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2022 show.

To be effective, sustainability principles need to be incorporated into the organisational culture and modus operandi of each institution. Semestry offers a route towards sustainability and quality in education with smart, dynamic timetabling technology, to enable flexible use of educational resources and provide greater transparency in curriculum design.

As we celebrated World Environment Day this month, we were happy to acknowledge the wide global spread of the top performers in this year’s rankings. THE Impact Rankings are unique in measuring universities’ contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), assessing commitment to sustainability across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach and teaching. Progress is measured for each of 17 individual SDGs, as well as across the goals as a whole.


Global concern
A record 1,524 institutions from 110 countries/regions participated across the rankings this year, a 23% increase since last year, reflecting the growing importance of the SDGs within higher education institutions globally.

Australia’s Western Sydney University claimed the top spot in the overall ranking, after topping the table for SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and coming second in SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). The top ten overall rankings included universities from eight different countries, including Japan, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, the United States, and Malaysia, with Canada and the UK claiming double honours. In addition, individual SDGs were topped by institutions from Iran, Denmark, Thailand, China, South Africa, Germany, and the Netherlands

The UK has 20 universities in the overall top 100 – more than any other nation, while Pakistan was the third most-represented nation, China entered the top 30 and India broke into the world’s top 50. Indonesia makes the global top 20 and features in the top 10 for three separate SDGs.

Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, THE, commented: “The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are redefining excellence in global higher education – based on how universities’ are improving our world, not on traditional measures such as wealth and scholarly prestige. It is inspiring to see such a large, diverse, and rapidly-growing community of universities from all continents committed to subjecting themselves to scrutiny, to measure and demonstrate their impact and to showcase best practice in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. Students, as well as governments, are increasingly demanding such commitments and these demands will strengthen.

“It is particularly exciting to see that universities outside the traditional Western elites are shining out like beacons in this fresh approach to university rankings, giving an exciting new perspective on a diverse sector and broadening student choice.”


Impact Rankings 2022: overall top 10

2022 rank Institution Country/region Score
1 Western Sydney University Australia 99.1
2 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States 98.5
3 Western University Canada 97.8
=4 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia 97.5
=4 Universiti Sains Malaysia Malaysia 97.5
6 University of Auckland New Zealand 96.7
7 Queen’s University Canada 96.6
8 Newcastle University United Kingdom 96.5
9 University of Manchester United Kingdom 96.4
10 Hokkaido University Japan 96.2

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