University of Newcastle secures top spot for global impact

University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle’s commitment to sustainability and climate action has been recognised as world-class, as the results of the 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings are released today.

A female student holding a keep cup and University of Newcastle tote back looks away from the camera and towards NUspace in the background

With more than 2100 participating institutions from 125 countries, this ranking shows that the University is among the world’s top universities, solving global challenges for the communities we serve.

The rankings analyse and benchmark universities around the world for how they are addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development goals (SDGs).

This year the University of Newcastle ranked in the top 40 universities globally overall, and in the top 25 for five out of 17 SDG categories, including ranking fourth in the world for Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG6), and ninth for Climate Action (SDG13).

With more than 2100 participating institutions from 125 countries, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Academic Excellence, Professor Jennifer Milam said that this recognition demonstrates that the University of Newcastle is among the world’s top universities in our commitment to solving global challenges for the communities we serve.

“We know that increasingly, as students place more value in attending a socially conscious and sustainable university, it is vital for universities to demonstrate genuine commitment to a healthier, greener and more just planet,” Professor Milam said.

“To rank in the top 40 universities in the world for our impact on sustainable development clearly demonstrates that we are making a real-world impact and tackling the most important challenges of our time.

“This recognition highlights that our students can be proud to be part of a meaningful educational experience, our research is world-class, our staff is purpose driven, and our communities are active partners and beneficiaries.”

The University of Newcastle’s commitment to each of the SDGs is strengthened by a strong Environmental Sustainability Policy and Environmental Sustainability Plan, which guides how the University operates. This includes everything from the work in educating students and conducting ground-breaking research, through to how new buildings are established and down to the plants chosen for the gardens.

“Ranking fourth in the world for SDG6 Clean Water and Sanitation is a fantastic result, this is demonstrated through University led technology such as the Hydro Harvester, which will enable water-scarce communities to harvest up to 1000L of drinkable water per day from the air,” Professor Milam said.

“In the face of a warming global climate, it is this kind of world leading technology, along with operationally ensuring that we are integrating best-practice water-efficiency measures, that will lead us towards a healthier and more sustainable future for people and the planet.”

The University has also ranked highly in SDG3 Good Health and Well Being, recognised as 22nd in the world in one of the most competitive categories.

“Through excellent research, strong collaborations and health outreach programs, as well as 37% of our students graduating as health care professionals, we know we are having an impact when it comes to our communities living better, healthier lives,” Professor Milam said.

“Our university also runs six teaching clinics, from oral health and podiatry to speech pathology, and nutrition and dietetics. As well as providing practical experience for our students, these clinics offer free or low-cost services to our students, staff and communities, ensuring we are providing equitable access to health care services through education.”

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO said the University’s performance is a testament to its ongoing dedication to making a global impact by working towards a healthier, more equitable and sustainable world for all.

“As a dynamic, world-class university, we believe our organisation should be committed to each of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For the past five years we have participated in the THE Impact Rankings and consistently ranked in the top 50,” said Professor Zelinsky.

“I am proud to see that the University has performed extremely well this year, particularly given that there has been a 24% increase in participating institutions. For the University to be among the top 25 globally for five out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, despite a huge increase in participation is testament to our university wide commitment to sustainability, and it shows we’re a true leader in the space.”

The University of Newcastle is ranked 8th in Australia overall with 13 out of 17 SDGs being in the top 10 in Australia. This includes 2nd in Australia for Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG6), and 3rd for No Poverty (SDG1) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG11).

The University of Newcastle’s top five SDGs in the top 25:

  1. 4th globally in SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation
  2. 9th globally in SDG 13 Climate Action
  3. 13th globally in SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  4. 22nd globally in SDG 3 Good Health and Well-Being
  5. 23rd globally in SDG 5 Gender Equality

The SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked, globally recognised goals, designed to be a blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future. The rankings were the first global attempt to measure university progress specifically around the SDGs.

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