The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is the top university in South Africa for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the Times Higher Education Impact rankings.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is the top university in South Africa for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the Times Higher Education Impact rankings.

A balanced comparison across four major categories—research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching—was provided by the 2023 Impacts rankings rating, which evaluated 1,591 universities from 112 countries using a number of indicators.

Universities’ dedication and contributions to sustainability, societal impact, and innovation are recognised and highlighted by the rankings.

The group compares everything in four major categories—research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching—using carefully calibrated indicators.

Research is the most obvious and conventional way that a university might assist in achieving the SDGs by conducting research on pertinent subjects.

Stewardship refers to universities being guardians of important resources, including their staff, faculty, and students as well as physical resources. One of the key elements in achieving the SDGs is their stewardship behaviour.

The term “outreach” refers to the work universities do with their local, regional, national, and international communities, which THE stated is essential in higher education. This is yet another significant way in which they can influence sustainability.

Teaching, on the other hand, is essential for ensuring that there are enough qualified practitioners to carry out the SDGs and that all graduates apply the most important sustainability lessons to their future careers.

Which SDGs are included?

There are 17 UN SDGs, and university performance is evaluated on all of them.

SDG 1 – no poverty
SDG 2 – zero hunger
SDG 3 – good health and well-being
SDG 4 – quality education
SDG 5 – gender equality
SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation
SDG 7 – affordable and clean energy
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 14 – life below water
SDG 15 – life on land
SDG 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 17 – partnerships for the goals

Universities are required to submit data on as many of these SDGs as they can, according to HE. Each SDG has a set of metrics that are used to assess how well the university is doing in achieving that SDG.

The overall ranking includes any university that offers information on SDG 17 and at least three other SDGs.

The fifth edition of the THE Impact Rankings, which measure how well universities around the world are doing in achieving the 17 SDGs of the United Nations, received a record 1,707 institutions from around the world as participants.

With an overall score of 91.8, UJ is rated as the best university in South Africa and the 46th best university worldwide.

In terms of the “no poverty” indicator, UJ topped the list internationally.

“It is encouraging to see that our university has once more received high praise for its important role in societal impact, sustainability, and innovation through the SDGs. We are incredibly proud of this accomplishment and can’t wait to see what else our scholars produce in the near future,” the statement read.

The University of Pretoria (UP) came in second place overall and second in South Africa.

“It is evident that African universities are leading the way in enhancing social realities, and UP takes pride in its contribution to this as well as in continuing its mission to establish UP as the premier institution of higher learning, rooted in Africa and actively influencing the rest of the world.

“Although rankings are not the best or the only way to measure universities’ contributions to society, this ranking aligns with UP’s strategy to deliver greater societal impact and to contribute to sustainable futures for people and our planet,” UP said.

The Universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand had to settle for third and fourth place, respectively, despite frequently being at the top of the South African university rankings.

SA International Ranking University Score

  1. 46 University of Johannesburg 91.8
  2.  60 University of Pretoria 90.4
  3. 101-200 University of Cape Town 82.2–88.2
  4. 101-200 University of the Witwatersrand 82.2–88.2
  5. 401-600 Nelson Mandela University 66.9–72.6
  6. 401-600 University of the Western Cape 66.9–72.6
  7. 601-800 University of South Africa 59.7–66.7
  8. 801-1000 Durban University of Technology 53.9–59.6

With a score of 99.4, Western Sydney University in Australia was recognised as the top university internationally for the second year in a row.

The top three was completed by Queen’s University (97.2) in Canada and the University of Manchester (97.5) in England.

With 26 universities, the UK has the highest national representation in the top 100, followed by Australia with 16.

The top international universities are as follows:

Western Sydney University, AUS (99.4)
University of Manchester, UK (97.5)
Queen’s University, CAN (97.2)
University Sains Malaysia, Mal (96.9)
University of Tasmania, AUS (96.6)
Arizona State University, US (96.5)
University of Alberta, CAN and RMIT University, AUS (96.4)
Aalborg University, DEN and University of Victoria, CAN and Western University, CAN (95.8)