THE Impact Rankings 2020 by SDG: quality education (SDG 4) methodology

April 17, 2020

Browse the full Impact Rankings 2020 results

This ranking focuses on universities’ contribution to early years and lifelong learning, their pedagogy research and their commitment to inclusive education. As early years provision and lifelong learning are not the main focus of education at universities, this table should not be used to assess the overall quality of teaching at a university.

Please view the methodology for the Impact Rankings 2020 to find out how these data are used in the overall ranking. 


Research on early years and lifelong learning education (27%)

  • Proportion of research papers that are viewed or downloaded (10%)
  • Proportion of research papers in the top 10 per cent of journals as defined by Citescore (10%)
  • Number of publications (7%)

This focuses on research that is relevant to pedagogy, measuring paper views, the proportion of papers in the top 10 per cent of cited journals and the volume of research produced.

The data are provided by Elsevier’s Scopus dataset, based on a query of keywords associated with SDG 4 (quality education). The data include all indexed publications between 2014 and 2018 and are normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Proportion of graduates with teaching qualification (15.4%)

In order to understand how a university is supporting early years education we measure the proportion of their graduates who receive a degree that would enable them to teach at primary school level in their country. The data relate to the number of graduates in the 2018 academic year.

The data were provided directly by universities and normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Lifelong learning measures (26.8%)

  • Access to educational resources for those not studying at the university (5%)
  • Educational activities that are open to the general public, such as lectures or specific educational courses (5%)
  • Educational events that provide vocational training for those not studying at the university (5%)
  • Educational outreach activities in the local community, including schools (5%)
  • Policy to ensure that these activities are open to all (6.8%)

The data and evidence for these metrics were provided directly by universities. The evidence was evaluated and scored by Times Higher Education and is not normalised.

Proportion of first-generation students (30.8%)

This is defined as the number of students starting a first (bachelor’s) degree who identify as being the first person in their immediate family to attend university, divided by the total number of students starting a first (bachelor’s) degree. All data are provided as full-time equivalents.

The data and evidence were provided directly by universities and normalised across the range using Z-scoring.


When we ask about policies and initiatives, our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria and decisions are cross validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence is not required to be exhaustive – we are looking for examples that demonstrate best practice at the institutions concerned.


Unless otherwise stated, the data used refer to the closest academic year to January to December 2018.


Universities must teach undergraduates and be validated by a recognised accreditation body to be included in the ranking.

Data collection

Institutions provide and sign off their institutional data for use in the rankings. On the rare occasions when a particular data point is not provided, we enter a value of zero.

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