THE Impact Rankings 2020 by SDG: sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) methodology

April 17, 2020

Browse the full Impact Rankings 2020 results

The focus of this ranking goes beyond the traditional view of sustainability as being about stewardship of resources to also look at the role of a university in sustaining and preserving the heritage of communities. It explores institutions’ research on sustainability, their role as custodians of arts and heritage and their internal approaches to sustainability.

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


Research on sustainable cities and communities (27%)

  • Proportion of papers in the top 10 per cent of journals as defined by Citescore (10%)
  • Field-weighted citation index of papers produced by the university (10%)
  • Number of publications (7%)

This focuses on research that is relevant to sustainable cities and communities. The field-weighted citation index is a subject-normalised score of the citation performance of publications.

The data are provided by Elsevier’s Scopus dataset, based on a query of keywords associated with SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities). The dataset includes all indexed publications between 2014 and 2018. The data are normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Support of arts and heritage (22.6%)

  • Public access to significant buildings at the university (3.75%)
  • Public access to university libraries (3.75%)
  • Public access to university museums, galleries or works of art (3.75%)
  • Public access to open and green spaces (3.75%)
  • Provide artistic events for members of the public, such as concerts (3.8%)
  • Record and preserve local heritage (3.8%)

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

Expenditure on arts and heritage (15.3%)

This measures the proportion of total university expenditure spent directly on arts and heritage, excluding spending on sports facilities.

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

Sustainable practices (35.1%)

  • Targets on sustainable commuting (3.9%)
  • Promote sustainable commuting (3.9%)
  • Encourage telecommuting, remote working or condensed working weeks (3.9%)
  • Affordable housing for students (3.9%)
  • Affordable housing for staff (3.9%)
  • Prioritise pedestrian access on campus (3.9%)
  • Work with local authorities to address planning issues, including the provision of affordable housing for local residents (3.9%)
  • Build to sustainable standards (3.9%)
  • Build on brownfield sites (3.9%)

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


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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