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Top universities in the world for global impact 2022

Explore the top 100 universities making a global impact in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 

April 27 2022
Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings.

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From the crisis of plastic in the oceans to gender disparities in pay, the world’s biggest concerns are more and more in the minds of consumers and corporations. And no one understands the importance of tackling these better than universities and students.  

But which universities are incorporating these global issues into their governance? And how can we measure the real impact that universities are making on their students and wider communities?

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Times Higher Education has put together the Impact Rankings to shine a light on those institutions that are working hard to tackle global issues such as gender inequality, quality education for all, climate change, and achieving peaceful societies and economic growth. 

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

Universities were invited to submit data on how they were progressing on the SDGs. More than 1,400 universities submitted data this year across the SDGs. You can read more about the methodology here.

This ranking is a crucial resource for students choosing a university because it moves away from assessing universities on their research output and focuses instead on the impact that universities are having on some of the world’s most pressing issues. 

Top five universities in the Impact Rankings 2022

1. Western Sydney University

Western Sydney University tops the ranking for the first time.

The university scored particularly highly for SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). 

The university has prioritised research in areas relating to SDG 4 (quality education), SDGs 13,14 and 15 (relating to environment and sustainability), SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and SDGs 11 and 12 (sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production). 

A series of key initiatives have also been introduced on campus to increase its sustainability, including implementing a pilot solar-powered car park on the Kingswood Campus, offsetting the carbon footprint of international travel and installing more electric-vehicle charging stations on campus. 

2. Arizona State University (Tempe)

Arizona State University Tempe climbs seven places this year to take the second position in the 2022 Impact Rankings. It is the only university in the US to feature in the overall top 10. 

The university also ranked number one for SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 14 (life below water), SDG 15 (life on land) and also scored well in SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals). 

There are a range of student clubs at the university that encourage students to think about sustainability and climate action including United Nations Association at ASU and Honors Society for Sustainability.

3. Western University

Western University also took the number one position for SDG 1 (no poverty) and scored highly for SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure),  SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 15 (life on land). 

The university’s 2020-2021 sustainability report outlines all of the key activities, research and student initiatives the university has undertaken in the past year towards the goals. 

This includes the student Empower Club which works to remove barriers for underprivileged women in the local community such as single mothers, women who have experienced abuse and women who have experienced homelessness. 

The university has also introduced a range of courses for students focusing on sustainability, such as the climate change and society major and a course in environmental science and sustainability. 


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=4. King Abdulaziz University

King Abdulaziz University performed particularly well for SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities).

The university has a range of research centres conducting research into areas relating to the SDGs including Centre of Excellence in Environmental Studies, the Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Research and the Water Research Centre. 

=4. Universiti Sains Malaysia

Universiti Sains Malaysia is the only university in Asia to feature in the top five of the Impact Rankings and one of two Asian universities to feature in the top 10. 

It also came number one in SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and joint first for SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals). 

The university has introduced a range of sustainable initiatives on campus including an undergraduate minor in sustainability and a postgraduate research programme as part of the Centre for Global Sustainability Studies. 


Impact Ranking 2022: Top 100 

Impact Rank 2022 University Country/region
1 Western Sydney University Australia
2 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
3 Western University Canada
=4 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
=4 Universiti Sains Malaysia Malaysia
6 University of Auckland New Zealand
7 Queen’s University Canada
8 Newcastle University United Kingdom
9 University of Manchester United Kingdom
10 Hokkaido University Japan
11 University of Alberta Canada
12 University of Victoria Canada
=13 University of British Columbia Canada
=13 Kyungpook National University South Korea
15 University of Technology Sydney Australia
=16 Chulalongkorn University Thailand
=16 University of Guelph Canada
18 University of Indonesia Indonesia
=19 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
=19 Kyoto University Japan
=19 La Trobe University Australia
22 RMIT University Australia
23 University of Leicester United Kingdom
24 King’s College London United Kingdom
25 University of Tasmania Australia
26 University of Coimbra Portugal
=27 Fudan University China
=27 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
29 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
30 University of Newcastle Australia
=31 Aalborg University Denmark
=31 University of the Sunshine Coast Australia
=33 Michigan State University United States
=33 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan
=33 York University Canada
36 Université Laval Canada
=37 University of Bologna Italy
=37 McMaster University Canada
=37 National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan
=37 University of Sussex United Kingdom
41 Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham India
=42 Bournemouth University United Kingdom
=42 University of Calgary Canada
=42 University of Exeter United Kingdom
=42 KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden
=42 Monash University Australia
=47 University of East Anglia United Kingdom
=47 National University of Ireland, Galway Ireland
=47 Penn State (Main campus) United States
=50 University of Canterbury New Zealand
=50 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
52 University of Sydney Australia
=53 Bangor University United Kingdom
=53 University of Waterloo Canada
=55 University of Surrey United Kingdom
=55 UNSW Sydney Australia
57 University of Canberra Australia
=58 Brunel University London United Kingdom
=58 University of Saskatchewan Canada
60 Auckland University of Technology New Zealand
61 University of Otago New Zealand
=62 University of São Paulo Brazil
=62 University College Cork Ireland
64 Lakehead University Canada
65 Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
66 Massey University New Zealand
=67 Aswan University Egypt
=67 Charles Sturt University Australia
69 University of Johannesburg South Africa
=70 Chiang Mai University Thailand
=70 Glasgow Caledonian University United Kingdom
=70 University of Plymouth United Kingdom
=70 University of Wollongong Australia
=74 Kyung Hee University South Korea
=74 Lovely Professional University India
=76 University of Essex United Kingdom
=76 University of Padua Italy
78 University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro Portugal
=79 Macquarie University Australia
=79 Victoria University Australia
=81 University of Hull United Kingdom
=81 University of Montreal Canada
=83 Central Queensland University Australia
=83 University of Waikato New Zealand
=85 Queen’s University Belfast United Kingdom
=85 Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand
87 Universitas Gadjah Mada Indonesia
=88 Dublin City University Ireland
=88 University of Liverpool United Kingdom
=90 London South Bank University United Kingdom
=90 University of Toronto Canada
=92 Griffith University Australia
=92 Hanyang University South Korea
=92 University of Southern Denmark Denmark
95 Jeonbuk National University South Korea
=96 Concordia University Canada
=96 New Jersey Institute of Technology United States
=98 Politecnico di Milano Italy
=98 University of South Florida United States
=98 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States

View the full Impact Ranking here 


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