THE University Impact Rankings 2019 by SDG: partnerships for the goals methodology

April 2, 2019

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 University Impact Rankings 2019 to find out how these data are used in the overall ranking.


Research (27%)

  • Proportion of academic publications with co-author from other country (14%)
  • Number of publications that relate to the 11 SDGs (13%) 

The first metric measures the proportion of academic publications that are co-authored by someone from another country. 

The second metric measures the number of publications that relate to the 11 SDGs that are part of the first Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings.

The data are provided by Elsevier’s Scopus dataset and normalised across its range using z-scoring. It includes all indexed publications between 2013 and 2017.

Relationships to support the goals (23%)

  • Policy development with government or NGOs (4.6%)
  • Promoting cross-sectoral dialogue with government or NGOs (4.6%)
  • Collaborating internationally to capture data relating to SDGs (4.6%)
  • Working internationally to promote best practice around SDGs (4.6%)
  • Supporting the education of NGOs with respect to the SDGs (4.6%)

We asked for evidence that universities gather data on the progress of the SDGs internationally and promote best practices and cross-sectoral dialogue in support of the goals.

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

Publication of SDG reports (50%)

We asked institutions whether they published specific data on their performance against each of the 10 SDGs included in the first Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings (excluding SDG 17 on partnerships for the goals).

We gave extra credit for documents that are in the public domain and data published in an open format.

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 2017.


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.

The methodology was developed in conjunction with our partners Vertigo Ventures and Elsevier, and after consultation and input from individual universities, academics, and sector groups. 

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.