University of Auckland tops global sustainability rankings

Pioneering league table from THE aims to assess the impact world universities make towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The University of Auckland has topped the Times Higher Education’s (THE) first World University Impact Rankings.

McMaster University, Canada and The University of Manchester were ranked second and third.

The league table reveals the universities contributing most towards achieving a more sustainable future.

The universities’ performance was scored against the United Nations’ 11 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and take into account universities’ work on gender equality, climate action and reducing inequality, among many other areas.

King’s College London was the only other UK university to make the top 10.

The University of Southampton, University of Dundee and Newcastle University rounded out the top five UK universities ranked on the list. They were placed 12th, 20thand 23rdrespectively.


Institution Global ranking
University of Auckland1st
McMaster University2nd
University of ManchesterJoint 3rd
University of British ColumbiaJoint 3rd
King’s College London5th

Dr Julian Skyrme, director of social responsibility at the University of Manchester, said: “Being recognised as Europe’s highest ranking university in this new index – and third in the world overall – is a brilliant reflection of the work of our researchers, teachers, students, professional services and cultural institution staff, enhancing our global reputation as a leader on social responsibility and impact.”

The University of Manchester was scored highly for its contribution to health and wellbeing, its work towards building sustainable cities and communities, its research on consumption and its international partnerships that further sustainability.

The rankings were developed in partnership with Vertigo Ventures, a leading research organisation. Its impact officer, Dr Mary Ho, said “the sector can no longer shy away” from its responsibility towards sustainability.

CEO of Vertigo Ventures Laura Tucker said that universities’ positive impact on society is “increasingly intertwined with their financial futures”. The Research Excellence Framework (REF), which assess the quality of research in the UK higher education sector, changed its assessment criteria to reflect the growing significance it places on the field. “Demonstrating the difference universities are making will only get more important”, Tucker said.

The figures were compiled from data voluntarily supplied by 551 universities from 80 countries across six continents.


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