The University of Auckland has maintained a top place (12th) in the Global Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2023, with the number of participating universities increasing by some 20 percent from last year and up nearly 400 percent from its inaugural year in 2019.
The ranking is perhaps the best-known measure that evaluates universities’ contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It assesses commitment to sustainability across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach and teaching covering all 17 of the SDGs.
With the top global spot in the first two years of the ranking, the University of Auckland has maintained a strong position given the increased focus across the globe on sustainability and the role universities can and should play, believes the University’s strategic planning manager, Dr Jingwen Mu.
“We are rightly proud of our ranking which takes into account that we have 13 SDGs in the world’s top ten per cent and all of our SDGs in the world’s top 25 percent,” she says. “Our outstanding performance reflects our commitment to our Sustainability Strategy and Net Zero Carbon Strategy under the University’s strategic plan Taumata Teitei.”
The overall ranking combines the scores in SDG 17 (Partnerships), in which Waipapa Taumata Rau is ranked 39th equal, along with three other top performing SDGs. These are SDG 15 Life on Land (6th), SDG 5 Gender Equity (11th) and SDG 9 Industry innovation and infrastructure (60th).
This year is an important milestone in the Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted in 2015, marking just over halfway to the 2030 deadline. Importantly a wider and more diverse range of universities are participating, particularly in the Global South, while nine new countries - Brunei, Curaçao, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Panama, Serbia, Syria and Zimbabwe – participated for the first time.
THE’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Phil Baty, said the Impact Rankings were becoming one of the world’s most important university rankings.
“This is an extremely valuable tool for universities, governments, funders and policymakers to understand how universities are supporting the drive to meet the SDGs and what must be done to improve their performance even further in this massively critical area.
“The rankings are also vital for millions of prospective students who are increasingly demanding to see evidence that the universities they consider for their education are committed to sustainability and to helping them to become sustainably minded citizens,” he said.
Initiatives such as the gender pay-gap investigation and the development of the 6 Green Star ranked Social Sciences building, global partnerships with universities across the world, plus research such as the work being carried out in conjunction with local iwi to explore the unprecedented warm water temperature in the Hauraki Gulf, contribute to the scores.