Australian universities dominate 2020 global impact rankings

Australian universities dominate 2020 global impact rankings

The University of Sydney has topped the list of Australian universities making a positive impact on society, placing second overall in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2020.

The University joined Western Sydney University (WSU), La Trobe University and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), which ranked 3rd, 4th and 10th, respectively, in the top 10.

The rankings, now in their second year, measure how the global higher education sector is working towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These rankings are based on research, outreach and stewardship and are the only ranking system in the world to assess higher education’s sustainability impact.

Approximately 800 universities from 85 countries and regions were evaluated for this year’s edition.

The University of Sydney was among the top in the world in SDG 11 “sustainable cities and communities”, SGD 15 “life on land”, SDG 8 “decent work and economic growth” and the mandatory SGD 17 “partnership for the goals”, which is centred on collaboration.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence said it was inspiring to see the efforts made by the University and other higher education institutions in addressing global issues.

“Our founders created Australia’s first university in recognition of the importance of education in driving societal change and that continues to be a central focus through our research and education,” he said.

“The contribution universities make has never been more important – with climate change, unprecedented bushfires and the coronavirus affecting us all”.

Dr Spence gave particular recognition to the University’s staff, along and students, who he said are “working tirelessly” with colleagues around the world, with industry, community and with government to solve the unprecedented challenges facing the world. 

“I’m thrilled they have been recognised and acknowledged with this ranking,” he said.

Driving social transformation

Meanwhile, WSU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Barney Glover AO extended his congratulations to the University’s leaders, students and staff for their role in this year’s success.

“Now more than ever, universities need to be trusted sources of evidence-based information, as well as institutions that can help drive social transformation,” he said.

“These results demonstrate Western Sydney University’s ongoing commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and our leading role when it comes to addressing some of the world’s most pressing environmental, sustainability and equity issues”.

Professor Glover said the rankings indicate that the University is “on the right path”.

“We are doing our part, we are making vital contributions, and we are helping to support a more fair and equitable world, both locally and globally,” he said.

La Trobe University Chancellor John Brumby AO said the rankings reflect the University’s commitment to making the world a better place.

“It’s an outstanding result and a wonderful recognition of the hard work and deep commitment of our teachers and researchers, alumni and financial supporters,” he said.

“La Trobe is deeply engaged with and committed to addressing the world’s biggest issues; from gender equality to student employability and from health research and collaboration to reducing inequality and discrimination”.

Elite list

Monash University ranked 17th and the University of Wollongong (UOW), which took the 31st spot, were among the country’s top-performing universities.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Paul Wellings CBE said the rankings provide further evidence that “universities can be world leaders in achieving sustainability and contributing to the greater good of society.”

“UOW is making significant progress in pursuing its objectives in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which address complex social, economic and environmental problems within our communities,” he said.

“This progress would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of talented researchers across the Institution and I congratulate them on achieving this result”.

Rounding out the elite list of Australian universities in the top 100 were: University of Newcastle (45th); University of Tasmania (47th); Deakin University (55th); Charles Sturt University (61st); University of New South Wales (66th); Queensland University of Technology (70th); University of Victoria (82nd); Edith Cowan University (83rd); University of South Australia (87th) and Charles Darwin University (99th).