The Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings measure the performance of high education institutions across 85 countries towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Today's release was only the second set of Impact Rankings after their introduction this time last year when Newcastle came 23rd. The ratings are calculated using indicators of research, outreach and stewardship.
This year universities in Australasia dominate the rankings, with the University of Auckland in New Zealand coming in first place followed by three universities from Australia in second to fourth. The highest-ranking British university is Manchester in eighth, followed by King's College London in ninth, and then Leeds and Newcastle joint in 11th. Northumbria comes in at 27th.
Of the 17 SDGs, Newcastle performed best in ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, where it ranked sixth because of its research in into sustainability, support for arts and heritage sectors, and sustainable practices.
The University is ranked eighth globally for ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ because of policies including the ethical sourcing of food and supplies and waste disposal, alongside efforts to minimise plastic use.
Newcastle came joint 12th for ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, 28th for ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure’ and joint 36th for ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’.
This announcement follows the University's signing of the SDG Accord led by the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges, in which universities commitment to embedding the SDGs in their activities. The University has also divested all endowment funds from companies making revenue from fossil fuel extraction, and recently signed an aggregated power purchase agreement with 19 other universities across the UK to buy renewable electricity to the value of £50m from a portfolio of wind farms. The University has purchased 100% renewable electricity since 2017, and has a long-term climate action goal of reaching net-zero CO2 emissions by 2040.
Discussing the news, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Julie Sanders said: “I am immensely proud of the massive University-wide effort and commitment to issues of social and climate justice that this THE placing recognises. It is especially pleasing to be positioned so highly in the Sustainable Cities and Communities category as this reflects outstanding work, in our research and in work with our students and with partners, in areas such as health and wellbeing, cities and place, and culture and creative arts. The UN SDGs will be central to the ways in which all universities will strive to address the worldwide ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is terrific that Newcastle University can and will make a global contribution in this way.”