Best universities for reducing inequalities

Explore the top 100 universities for reducing inequalities based on data collected for the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings

July 21 2021
Best universities for reducing inequality


First generation students or students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are still poorly represented in higher education. But universities are now working hard to rectify this and the Impact Rankings 2021 are an indicator of which universities are doing this successfully. 

To put together this ranking we mapped how universities around the world are committing to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are a global call to action to tackle poverty, climate change and inequality. 

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The SDGs look to tackle some of today’s biggest global issues and SDG 10 covers reducing inequalities. 

Some of the metrics that helped to measure which universities were excelling at reducing inequalities were the number of first generation students, the number of students from developing countries, the proportion of students and staff with disabilities, the measures against discrimination and the amount of research a university undertakes on reduced inequalities. More information on the methodology can be found here.

1. University of Canberra

This year the University of Canberra takes first place for SDG 10. 

The university was an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality for 12 years, until its last submission in 2019. It also received the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award as part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) in 2020.

The university conducts research into social inequalities and discrimination. It is also committed to recruiting staff and students from under-represented groups.

2. RMIT University

RMIT University is committed to working across all the SDGs and SDG 10 is no exception. 

RMIT is conducting a number of research projects that explore inequalities in all aspects of society and in Australia and beyond. One such research project focuses on the liveability of cities in Australia through analysing the public transport systems, public open spaces, housing affordability, walkability, employment and food and alcohol environments. 

3. King Abdulaziz University

King Abdulaziz University is a public university located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

It was established in 1967 as a private university but became a public university in 1974. 

Like the majority of public universities in Saudi Arabia, all students receive free education, housing and a stipend.

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4. Western Sydney University

The disability service at Western Sydney University is made up of a team of professional disability advisors and trained educational support staff. The service helps with pre-admission advice, academic support and advocacy on disability-related issues. 

There is also a wide range of support for international students. There are guides providing practical advice on living and studying in Australia, as well as important information about mental health and loneliness.

There is also a specific support centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 

5. Keele University

Keele University’s Institute of Sustainable Futures contributes to research, education and training for improving sustainability at the university and in the community. 

The Institute coordinates its work around six key challenges that aim to create sustainable communities and healthy societies, among other goals. Projects addressing these challenges include combating malaria, researching the links between mental health and well-being and green space and connection to nature, through to disease and environmental change.

The top 100 universities for reducing inequality

Reducing inequality rank 2021


1 University of Canberra Australia
2 RMIT University Australia
3 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
4 Western Sydney University Australia
5 Keele University United Kingdom
6 University of Southern Denmark Denmark
=7 Indiana University -Purdue University Indianapolis United States
=7 University of Wollongong Australia
9 University of Leeds United Kingdom
10 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
11 University of Greenwich United Kingdom
=12 Concordia University Canada
=12 McMaster University Canada
14 Ahlia University Bahrain
15 University of Valencia Spain
=16 Aalborg University Denmark
=16 University of Exeter United Kingdom
18 King’s College London United Kingdom
19 Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University Saudi Arabia
20 Newcastle University United Kingdom
=21 University of Leicester United Kingdom
=21 Sheffield Hallam University United Kingdom
=23 ESIC Business and Marketing School Spain
=23 University of Westminster United Kingdom
=25 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
=25 London South Bank University United Kingdom
27 University of Northampton United Kingdom
=28 Iran University of Medical Sciences Iran
=28 University of Reading United Kingdom
30 IE University Spain
31 University of Huddersfield United Kingdom
32 Maynooth University Republic of Ireland
33 University of the West of Scotland United Kingdom
34 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Greece
35 University of Auckland New Zealand
36 Middlesex University United Kingdom
37 University of Surrey United Kingdom
38 Dublin City University Republic of Ireland
39 Lakehead University Canada
40 Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
41 Murdoch University Australia
42 Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
43 Queensland University of Technology Australia
44 Brunel University London United Kingdom
45 York University Canada
46 Monash University Australia
47 University of Otago New Zealand
48 University of Bordeaux France
=49 University of East London United Kingdom
=49 Old Dominion University United States
=51 University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
=51 University of Manchester United Kingdom
=51 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
54 MacquarIE University Australia
55 University of Maryland, Baltimore County United States
56 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
=57 University of Tasmania Australia
=57 University of Waikato New Zealand
59 University of Bologna Italy
60 University of Johannesburg South Africa
61 National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan
62 National University of Ireland, Galway Republic of Ireland
=63 Queen’s University Belfast United Kingdom
=63 University of Victoria Canada
65 Lebanese University Lebanon
=66 De Montfort University United Kingdom
=66 University of South Australia Australia
68 University of Newcastle Australia
69 University of Strathclyde United Kingdom
70 University of Sussex United Kingdom
71 University of Waterloo Canada
72 Bangor University United Kingdom
=73 Rovira i Virgili University Spain
=73 University of Sydney Australia
75 University of Bari Aldo Moro Italy
=76 Griffith University Australia
=76 University of Konstanz Germany
78 Bournemouth University United Kingdom
79 University of Algarve Portugal
=80 Auckland University of Technology New Zealand
=80 Kyungpook National University South Korea
82 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
83 University of Passau Germany
84 Queen’s University Canada
85 University of the Western Cape South Africa
86 KIIT University India
87 Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Russian Federation
=88 University of Liverpool United Kingdom
=88 University of Malaya Malaysia
90 Cairo University Egypt
91 University of Calgary Canada
92 Federation University Australia Australia
93 An-Najah National University Palestine
94 University of Cape Town South Africa
95 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
96 Glasgow Caledonian University United Kingdom
=97 Kyung Hee University South Korea
=97 Sapienza University of Rome Italy
99 Deakin University Australia
=100 Bath Spa University United Kingdom
=100 Durham University United Kingdom

View the full ranking for reducing inequalities here 


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