Impact Rankings 2023: partnerships for the goals (SDG 17) methodology

May 25, 2023

This ranking looks at the broader ways in which universities support the SDGs through collaboration with other countries, the promotion of best practices and the publication of data. Unless all partners work together towards the SDGs, they cannot be achieved.

This is the only compulsory SDG for inclusion in the overall rankings. It is also worth a smaller proportion of the final score in the overall table.

View the methodology for the Impact Rankings 2023 to find out how these data are used in the overall ranking.


Research (27.1%)

  • Proportion of academic publications with co-author from lower- or lower-middle-income country (13.55%)
  • Number of publications that relate to the 17 SDGs (13.55%)

The first indicator measures the proportion of academic publications that are co-authored by someone from another country. The country that the partner organisation is in must be defined as low-income or lower-middle-income by the World Bank.

The second indicator measures the number of publications that relate to the 17 SDGs.

The data are provided by Elsevier’s Scopus dataset and normalised across the range using Z-scoring. The data include all indexed publications between 2017 and 2021.

Relationships to support the goals (18.5%)

  • Relationships with regional NGOs and government for SDG policy (3.7%)
  • Cross-sectoral dialogue about SDGs with government or NGOs (3.7%)
  • Collaborating internationally to capture data relating to SDGs (3.7%)
  • Working internationally to develop best practice on tackling SDGs (3.7%)
  • Collaborating with NGOs to tackle SDGS through student volunteering programmes, research programmes or educational resources (3.7%)

The evidence was provided directly by universities, evaluated and scored by THE and not normalised.

Publication of SDG reports (27.2%)

We asked institutions whether they published specific data on their performance against each of the 17 SDGs. We gave extra credit for documents that are in the public domain.

The evidence for this metric was evaluated and scored by THE and was not normalised.

Education on the SDGs (27.2%)

  • Commitment to meaningful education around the SDGs across the university, relevant and applicable to all students (9.06%)
  • Dedicated courses (full degrees, or electives) that address sustainability and the SDGs (9.06%)
  • Dedicated outreach educational activities for the wider community, which could include alumni, local residents, displaced people (9.06%)

This metric explores how universities are teaching the next generation to adopt sustainability in their lives.

The evidence was provided directly by universities, evaluated and scored by THE and not normalised.


When we ask about policies and initiatives – for example, the existence of mentoring programmes – our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. In these cases, we give credit for the evidence, and for the evidence being public. These metrics are not usually size normalised.

Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria, and decisions are cross-validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence need not be exhaustive – we are looking for examples that demonstrate best practice at the institutions concerned.

Time frame

In general, the data used refer to the closest academic year to January to December 2021. The date range for each metric is specified in the full methodology document.


The ranking is open to any university that teaches at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Although research activities form part of the method­ology, there is no minimum research requirement for participation.

THE reserves the right to exclude universities that it believes have falsified data, or are no longer in good standing.

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.

View the full methodology for the THE Impact Rankings 2023 here.

The THE Impact Rankings 2023 will be published at 11:30am BST on 1 June.

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