The University of Aberdeen is among the top 100 universities in the world in terms of its positive impact on society.
The University has been placed as 73rd in the world in the newly published Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, which recognise universities for their social and economic impact based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This year’s rankings place Aberdeen among the global top 50 for five SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production (11th), which considered the University’s action on waste management, ethical sourcing of food and supplies, and reducing the use of disposable items.
Across the board, the University has improved its score in all but one SDG that it submitted data for in last year’s rankings. Furthermore, it has now expanded its submission to cover all 17 SDGs.
This year’s rankings have considered 766 higher education institutions (up from 462 last year), allowing institutions to demonstrate their commitment to the SDGs through teaching, research and knowledge transfer, as well as their internal practices, policies and procedures.
Among the initiatives understood to have contributed to the University’s ranking include:
- Establishing sustainability as a key pillar of the University’s Aberdeen 2040 strategy, including a commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions before 2040
- Alignment of the interdisciplinary research themes established as part of the Aberdeen 2040 strategy to the Sustainable Development Goals
- Signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals Accord
- Recording the third successive year of significant emissions reductions – down over 30 per cent in three years
- Recording a significant reduction in landfilled waste (less than 0.5 tonnes) following a new waste management tender
- Celebrating the sixth annual graduation for Project Search, helping people with learning difficulties secure employment
- Participation in a new eBike scheme to encourage active travel around campus
- Introduction of the ‘Latte Levy’ including the provision of a free re-usable mug to encourage take-up
The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the UN in 2016 to provide a framework for developing the world in a sustainable way.
The THE Impact Rankings rank universities 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.
This year, the University’s three highest ranked SDGs are SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production; SDG10: Reduced Inequalities; and SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. As well as being ranked within the world top 50 for five SDGs, the University is also ranked in the top 100 for a further seven.
Professor Karl Leydecker, Senior Vice-Principal of the University of Aberdeen, said: “Sustainability is one of the key pillars of the University’s Aberdeen 2040 strategy, and as an institution we have pledged to show leadership in working for the sustainable future of our planet, setting an example to our sector and to society.
“This includes a number of key commitments, including encouraging our community to work and live sustainably, to excel in research that addresses the climate emergency, and to educate our students and staff to be leaders in protecting the environment.
“As a University our aim is to practice what we preach, and our work stretches from our campus into the local community, the North East of Scotland, and out to the wider world. It is testament to the efforts of our staff and students that we have been recognised as a global leader in acting on the principles of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”