Australian universities have once again outclassed their peers when it comes to tackling issues such as gender inequality, climate change and quality education for all.
Now in its third year, the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings assesses universities based on their progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
While the University of Manchester came in at number one, three Australian universities completed the top four for 2021: the University of Sydney, RMIT University and La Trobe University.
The University of Wollongong was the final local institution in the top 10, coming in at equal sixth.
Universities across the globe can submit data on as many of the 17 SDGs as they are able to, with 1239 institutions across 98 countries putting themselves forward this year. This is up from 859 institutions in 2020 and 556 in the inaugural 2019 listing.
Each SDG is measured on a series of metrics, such as the amount of research published on a particular topic and initiatives implemented that help contribute to the aims of the goals.
Republic of Ireland
RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Martin Bean said the university’s jump from 10th place in 2020 to third in 2021 showed a “collective determination to shape the world and contribute in meaningful ways to the communities we’re so passionate about”.
“We’re living our purpose as a university focused on practical impact and I’m so proud of the many thousands of people, staff and students, who earned this recognition,” he said.
While coming in fourth overall, La Trobe University ranked first in the world for life on land, and second in the world for gender equality and for decent work and economic growth.
The university was assessed against 14 of the SDGs, and La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the rankings reflect “how closely La Trobe’s values and ambitions resonate with important global issues”.
“Coming first in Australia and second in the world for gender equality reflects our proven track record and ongoing commitment to recruiting women to senior leadership roles, and to making higher education more accessible to women,” he said.
“Beyond our research focus and teaching, we are following through on that commitment with a range of initiatives such as solar power generation and improved energy efficiency which are ensuring that all La Trobe campuses achieve Net Zero by 2030.”
The THE Impact Rankings follow the release of the QS World University Rankings in March, which placed 11 Australian universities in the top 200. This was up from nine local institutions making the list in 2020.
Two Australian universities also made the top 50 for engineering and technology in the 2021 QS World University Rankings by Subject.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney was the highest ranked Australian institution on the list, in 36th place. It was also named fifth in the world for Mineral and Mining Engineering and 12th for Civil and Structural Engineering.
Joining UNSW in the top 50 for engineering and technology was the University of Melbourne, which was ranked 50th.
View the complete 2021 THE Impact Rankings list.