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What are impact rankings?

If you’re considering going to university, you might like to know about impact rankings and why they matter.

You may have seen or heard about the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings lately – in fact, they come out around this time every year. It might just look like a bunch of words and numbers right now, but if you want to make a balanced comparison about the best university to go to, then the THE Impact Rankings are the way to go about it.

What is THE?

THE stands for Times Higher Education: it’s a definitive source of data for higher education, worldwide. Basically, it’s a British magazine that reports specifically on news and issues related to tertiary study – and it’s the real deal. It’s mostly known for publishing the annual Times Higher Education – QS World University Rankings, which is what we’re interested in right now.

Impact Rankings means a sum of indicators that are weighted to cover all the different dimensions of the impact something has. In this case, it refers to where a university sits in relation to other universities, measured on a universal set of criteria.

What’s the criteria?

The methodology used to judge universities is supposed to be periodically updated, but the main criteria revolve around teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.

This year, THE updated their performance indicators from 13 to 18 criteria. Even though there’s now 18 different performance indicators, they are still grouped into 5 main areas:

  • Teaching – the learning environment
  • Research environment – volume, income, and reputation
  • Research quality – citation impact, research strength, research excellence and research influence
  • International outlook – staff, students, and research
  • Industry – income and patents

By judging all universities against the same set of criteria, THE aims to provide a fair and accurate ranking list of universities worldwide. It’s also important to note that this criteria is all related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and that this list ranks universities based on how well they are working to reach these goals.

Why should I care?

Choosing which university to study at is a big deal – you’ll be spending lots of time on campus, using their resources, socialising with other students, and when you graduate as alumni, you’ll be associated with that university.

That’s why the Impact Rankings can be useful – they can help you find the university that best meets your needs and advocates for the causes that you care about. The THE website has a really cool feature where you can search different universities by name or by country and subject, and the search results show the Impact Ranking and which individual sustainable development goals they are best at. There are also sections for reputation, subject, and country – just pick what matters to you and view the rankings from there.

There are also articles you can explore like the top universities for tackling gender equality 2024, which collates the rankings relevant to topics you care about.

This year for 2024, Western Sydney University in Australia ranked number one, which means they came first overall worldwide in how well they’re committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals across those 5 criteria.

Learn more

You can access the full list of THE Impact Rankings directly on their website, but they also have lots of great resources to check out, like a global job board, info about study abroad, and an events board.

If you want to learn more about university, work, or study, we also have heaps of helpful articles on our website here.


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