In April, Times Higher Education published the second – more extensive version of – its SDG-based “University Impact Rankings 2019”, which received numerous of mixed reactions.
On the positive side, it is good news that a prominent ranking organisation like THE takes the SDGs so seriously. And it is gratifying to see that no less than 4 Aurora universities rank among the top 20% of the universities listed: Gothenburg (6th), Vrije Universiteit (sharing 16th place), Aberdeen (sharing 31st), and Bergen (53rd), and the University of Iceland also ranked in the list.
On a more critical note, we must acknowledge that only 450 universities are in this ranking. Self-reported data forms a strong fundament of the ranking. Putting more value on strategy documents (paper is patient) and diversity indicators within the university than on metrics that indicate the real impact of research on these Sustainable Development Goals (used in the Aurora SDG Bibliometrics). Also, the University Impact Rankings are to date still based on a small selection of the SDGs, with remaining problems in the underlying search queries and – perennial with most rankings – a lot of obscurity in why some factors are weighted more heavily than others.
But let us look at the part of the glass that is already full.