University in global top 60 for positive impact on society

University in global top 60 for positive impact on society

Message to staff from Karl Leydecker, 21 April 2021

Dear Colleagues and Postgraduate Researchers,

I am delighted to bring you some good news in respect of the University’s performance in the newly published Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, where we are among the top 60 universities in the world in terms of our positive impact on society.

The University has been placed 57th out of 1,115 institutions worldwide in the rankings, which recognise universities for their social and economic impact under the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  This year’s rankings saw the University rise 16 places on last year’s position of 73rd out of 766 institutions surveyed. Aberdeen is also 12th in the UK rankings, rising from 16th place last year.

The methodology sees universities ranked based on their three highest scoring SDGs, together with their score for one mandatory SDG (SDG17: Partnership for the Goals). This allows universities to demonstrate their excellence in the areas that are most relevant to them, their community, and their country.  A detailed report outlining our performance has been prepared by our Planning team and is available to view here.

Areas in which we have excelled include Partnership for the Goals (SDG17) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG11) where Aberdeen has been placed 27th globally for both.

The University is ranked top 10 in the UK for 11 of the 17 SDGs, and top in Scotland in six.  An indicator of the breadth and depth of our impact is that Aberdeen is ranked in the top 20 in the UK across all 17 SDGs.

The performance partly reflects work taking place across the institution as part of our Aberdeen 2040 strategy, which includes 20 commitments to be a more inclusive, interdisciplinary, international, and sustainable university. The THE ranking is one of the ways in which we measure our progress in delivering against our commitments.

The University’s work involves both Professional Services and Academic Schools, including researchers who are working across scientific disciplines as part of global efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

To cite just one example, Professors Abbe Brown and Marcel Jaspers, from the School of Law and Department of Chemistry respectively, have been part of a team involved in UN negotiations over a common set of rules governing the use of marine biological resources – such as those used in the development of life-saving antibiotics – in international waters.

Meanwhile Professional Services staff have ensured the University ranks highly on measures such as waste management, recycling and energy management. With sustainability a key theme of Aberdeen 2040, we are committed to achieving net zero emissions before 2040.

The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the UN in 2016 to provide a framework for developing the world in a sustainable way. Last year, in launching Aberdeen 2040, the University signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals Accord, demonstrating our commitment to achieving this ambition. More information on this and other activity spearheaded by our Sustainability Steering Group is available via our Sustainability and Social Responsibility webpage.

Aberdeen 2040 makes clear our ambition that the University acts as a leader in working for the sustainable future of our planet, and our strong and improving performance in the THE Impact Rankings is testament to our progress. I would like to thank everyone for your contribution to this effort.

Best wishes



Professor Karl Leydecker
Senior Vice-Principal
Chair of Sustainability Steering Group

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