UNSW ranks fifth globally for Social Impact in QS Sustainability Rankings

UNSW Sydney performs strongly in the latest rankings, leading Australia in the categories of Knowledge Exchange and Health and Wellbeing.

UNSW Sydney ranked fifth in the world out of 1403 institutions for Social Impact in the QS World University Sustainability Rankings, up from 11th in 2022.

In their second year, the QS World University Sustainability Rankings provide a framework to show how universities are taking action to tackle the world’s greatest Environmental, Social and – new for 2023 – Governance (ESG) challenges.

UNSW secured an overall rank of 11th globally and was awarded two first places and five top five places in Australia for its work towards Environmental and Social Impact.

UNSW’s strong position in the 2023 QS Sustainability Rankings is reinforced by its top 20 position in the QS World Rankings earlier in the year where Sustainability was its strongest indicator. As part of the 20th anniversary of the QS World University Rankings, a 5 per cent Sustainability metric was added to the world ranking in June 2023. As such, the QS Sustainability Rankings have gained significant momentum across the higher education sector with the number of participating universities doubling from 700 in the inaugural rankings in 2022 to 1403 in 2023.

UNSW’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Bruce Watson said he was proud to see UNSW’s significant efforts to create a just, sustainable world reflected in the latest QS Sustainability rankings.

“This result is a testament to the work taking place across the University by teams leading the way in areas such as health and wellbeing, knowledge exchange and environmental sustainability, as well as the commitment of the UNSW community as a whole to working towards a more equitable society.”

UNSW performance

There are now three categories to the 2023 QS Sustainability Rankings: Environmental Impact (45 per cent), Social Impact (45 per cent), and a newly added for 2023 Governance category (10 per cent). Institutes can rank separately in each of these categories, in all three of them, and overall. Each Performance Lens is made up of separate indicators which are then aggregated to form a score for each lens. QS engaged 39 world-leading experts across 22 countries on the QS Rankings Advisory Board for the 2023 rankings.

UNSW has ranked: 11th in the world overall and third in Australia; fifth overall for Social Impact; 19th for Environmental Impact; and 31st for Governance.

  • Overall rank (11) (third in Australia)
    • Environmental Impact (=19)
      • Environmental Sustainability (24) (= second in Australia)
      • Environmental Education (55) (fifth in Australia)
      • Environmental Research (=129) (second in Australia)
    • Social Impact (5)
      • Knowledge Exchange (=8) (first in Australia)
      • Employability and Outcomes (=20)
      • Health and Wellbeing (=30) (= first in Australia)
      • Equality (=38)
      • Impact of Education (46)
    • Governance (31)

UNSW is leading Australia for ‘Knowledge Exchange’ and ‘Health and Wellbeing’ within the Social Impact category. This reflects the University’s ongoing commitment to contribute to a fair and just society through cutting edge research, partnerships and informed social and environmental policies.

A key initiative is Yuwaya Ngarra-li. This is a community-led partnership between the Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) and UNSW who work in partnership to improve the health, wellbeing, social, built and physical environment and life pathways of Aboriginal people in Walgett, NSW through collaborating on evidence-based initiatives, research and capacity building.

UNSW continues to use its expertise to positively help and support the local community by providing a range of free services from institutes such as the Kingsford Legal Centre, UNSW Tax & Business Advisory Clinic, UNSW Centre for Ideas and UNSW Optometry clinic.

The University also performed well in ‘Environmental Sustainability’ and ‘Environmental Research’. UNSW has undertaken many initiatives to increase the pace of environmental and social change, such as being the first university in Australia to have 100 per cent of its electricity supplied by solar PV power, progressing towards its commitment to divest from fossil fuel investments by 2025, and implementing a range of energy and water efficiency initiatives.

In 2020, UNSW founded the International Universities Climate Alliance (IUCA) and currently hosts its Secretariat. The Alliance brings together leading universities from across 25 countries with critical capability in climate research.

Universities are uniquely placed to share knowledge and expertise in climate science, climate change adaptation and mitigation. It is through collaboration that universities can create greater insight and action. By facilitating knowledge sharing and best practice approaches, the Alliance allows members to establish a global perspective on localised challenges. Enabling informed policy-making and supporting global efforts to lower carbon emissions and increase the rate, scope and impact of climate action.

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