As a University Guidance Counsellor, interested in the impact university education has in bringing the changes our world needs, the 2019 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings (THE Impact Ranking) attracted my attention in a very positive way last year. This was the first ranking of this type that I had seen, and it brought to the forefront the work of many well-known and respected universities, but equally many other universities who were newcomers in terms of global visibility. This ranking system measures how universities are integrating social, economic and cultural necessities into their courses, programs and research, making our education systems more useful in terms of a sustainable world.
Living as we are right now in very complex times, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, educational institutions need more than ever to ensure this integration is ensured in their programs and courses. Following the latest 2020 THE Impact Ranking, the Rector of Sao Paulo, Vahan Agopyan says, quite rightly, that the relationship between higher education and the public has never been more important, adding that universities must prove their civil value in this difficult period.
The Times Higher Education Impact Ranking
Last year, 551 universities from 80 countries across 17 regions and 6 continents were asked to submit data for the ranking and 462 were ranked. This year a further 291 universities have signed up to measure their own performance with regards to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
As mentioned in an earlier article, when discussing how education can and could lead to a better, more equitable world, I talked about the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), explaining how the THE Impact ranking evaluates university performance on 11 of these goals. The Goals to be considered by universities are:►SDG 3 – Good health and well-being ►SDG 4 – Quality education ►SDG 5 – Gender equality ►SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth ►SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure ►SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities ►SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities ►SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production►SDG 13 – Climate action ►SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions►SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals.
The University of Auckland came first overall in the 2020 ranking and their former vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon believes that universities reputations will increasingly be driven by their work related to sustainable development. It is interesting to note that the Australian universities performed very strongly with 5 of them in the top 10 places. The deputy vice-chancellor (research) of the University of Sydney, Duncan Ivison, believes that the SDGs give universities a useful framework to demonstrate their impact and work in partnership, and many instances of the importance of such partnerships became clear in recent times. These past weeks, I have been very impressed by the many stories I read of universities and business getting together to produce badly needed medical ventilators and equipment for hospitals and other institutions- to help ensure that SDG 3 – the right to good health, be respected and protected.
Please take a look at the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2020 results. Have a look at the universities who are taking the United Nations SDGs to heart, universities that wish to give their students an education which will enable them to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problems, we face today.
Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, Career and University Guidance Counsellor