Top universities for enhancing water sustainability in 2024

University Impact Rankings for UN SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Times Higher Education has recognised 867 universities from 96 countries/regions for their substantial contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6: clean water and sanitation. The top institutions are leaders in promoting equitable access to affordable drinking water, enhancing wastewater treatment and ensuring sustainable management of water resources. Through rigorous research and effective campus policies, these universities address water scarcity and strive to increase water use efficiency within their operations and broader communities.

By integrating sustainability into their core operations, these universities not only provide sanitation services and clean water but foster innovations that support sustainable water management practices globally. Their efforts are crucial in safeguarding water resources for future generations while ensuring current communities have the necessary access to maintain health and development.

Summary of findings

The ranking for SDG 6: clean water and sanitation is led by the University of Exeter in the UK, but Australia dominates the top 10, taking seven spots.

Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences in India also makes the top 10 (at second place), as does McMaster University in Canada (seventh).

Australia also has the highest number of universities in the top 100 with 14, followed by Canada (11) and the UK (10).


Our methodology for SDG 6: clean water and sanitation includes detailed indicators that measure universities' impact on water sustainability and management:

Research on water (27%)

  • Number of studies that advance sustainable management of water resources or are on other water-related issues
  • Field-weighted citation impact of publications on water
  • Proportion of water-related papers in top journals

Water consumption per person (19%)

  • Track water consumption rates per capita on campus
  • Volume of water used per capita per year

Water usage and care (23%)

  • Policies that monitor and improve water usage efficiency across the university
  • Implementation of sustainable practices in water management to minimise environmental impact

Water reuse (12%)

  • Systems and processes for reusing water within the university, including recycling wastewater
  • Track water reuse across the university

Water in the community (19%)

  • Community outreach programmes that focus on providing clean and affordable water
  • Collaborative projects with local governments and organisations to improve water and sanitation services in surrounding areas

The Impact Rankings are inherently dynamic: they are growing rapidly each year as many more universities seek to demonstrate their commitment to delivering the SDGs by joining our database; and they allow institutions to demonstrate rapid improvement year-on-year, by introducing clear new policies, for example, or by providing clearer and more open evidence of their progress. Therefore, we expect and welcome regular change in the ranked order of institutions (and we discourage year-on-year comparisons) as universities continue to drive this urgent agenda.

View the overall Impact Rankings 2024

Read our analysis of the Impact Rankings 2024 results

Download a free copy of the Impact Rankings 2024 digital report

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Explore Impact Rankings for individual SDGs

rank order Rank Name Clean water and sanitation Node ID