aurora network logo

How Sustainable Is Your University?

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 15 April May 10 2020

September 2020

Contribution by Pam Kaspers, VU Amsterdam

Times Higher Education (THE) has recently released the Impact ranking 2020, which aims at evaluating the contribution of 766 participating institutions from 85 countries worldwide to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG’s). The ranking is based on a score calculated for four SDG’s per university: the three SDG’s on which the university scores highest, and the overarching rating related to SDG 17. For every SDG, Times Higher looks at indicators regarding students, staff, research output, financial data and university policy.

The focus on university policy makes this ranking categorically different from other more traditional rankings, which focuses predominantly on research output, excellence and reputation. This allows universities to highlight their societal connection, impact and mission activities, which offers better visibility also to younger and less well-funded universities. The SDG-ranking is in part based on data submitted by the universities themselves. In 2020, 776 universities participated – against 450 in 2019.

Five of the Aurora Network member universities took part in the 2020 Impact ranking: the University of Iceland, the University of Aberdeen, the University of East Anglia, the Universitat Rovira i Virgili and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Two of these rank in the SDG top-100: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ranks 39, and the University of Aberdeen ranks 73 out of 766 participating universities. Both went down compared to 2019, from 16 for Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and from 31 for the University of Aberdeen, which may be explained by the growth in participation.

Aurora universities show a broad scope of expertise across the various SDG’s: the top 3 SDG scores of every Aurora university are distributed among 10 out of the 17 SDG’s (see figure). Figure  – Top 3 of SDG’s per Aurora University related to their scores and results of THE Impact ranking 2020

Back to newsletters