The 2020 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

Apr 22, 2020 | Blog, Press Releases

The Second Edition of the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings has now been released. We are happy to announce that more than 850 universities from 85 different countries and 6 different continents have taken part.

The Impact Rankings are the first global attempt to measure university progress specifically based upon the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). It can be a catalyst for action, a mechanism for holding the university sector to account, and an opportunity for them to highlight great work that they are already undertaking. Duncan Ross, Chief Data Officer at the Times Higher Education, highlights the importance of the rankings:

“The (UN) SDGs are vital if the world is to transform to a sustainable model of existence, and universities across the world are a vital part of the coalition to achieve the goals. We’ve created this ranking to highlight the excellent work that universities are already doing, but also to act as a spur for further action – highlighting successful work and best practices, and making sustainability a truly strategic goal for universities. Vertigo Ventures have been part of the team that have worked to shape the questions that underpin the rankings, helping us to ensure that we are producing a ranking that is fair, equitable and relevant across the world.”

At Vertigo Ventures we recognise the strong links between the higher education sector and the UN SDGs. Universities have multiple roles to play in achieving the Global Goals by 2030 – in education, research and as institutions in specific economic and social ecosystems. The impact rankings align with our mission to help leading research organisations capture, measure and report the impact of their work and to drive global recognition of how the sector impacts society on a global level. The CEO and Founder of Vertigo Ventures, Laura Tucker, clarifies further:

“Our mission is to embed impact reporting for a sustainable world as we believe what is measured can be managed. The UN SDGs are a globally agreed set of actions that are required for sustainable development. We are delighted to be the advisors for the THE Impact Ranking as it showcases how universities around the world are contributing towards the achievement of the UN SDGs. Whilst there is a lot more to be done, learning from each other and sharing best practices helps to facilitate progress and sustainable development.”

The Impact Rankings are designed to be as inclusive as possible: they are open to all universities and institutions which offer undergraduate programmes. They include an overall ranking of universities based on data for SDG 17 plus the best 3 SDGs per university and highlight the top performing universities for each SDG through an individual ranking.

We are delighted that our clients have taken part and can see that they have performed very well:

2nd: University of Sydney
9th: King’s College London
Top 100: University of Worcester
Top 100: De Montfort University
Top 100: Brunel University

Individual SDG Top 10 Ranking:
Goal 3
: Australian Catholic University – 3rd
Goal 4:
Lingnan University – 2nd
Goal 5
:University of Worcester – 5th
Goal 5: University of East London – 8th
Goal 7: Monash University – 7th
Goal 7: University of Queensland – 8th
Goal 8: University of Sydney – 3rd
Goal 8: Monash University – 8th
Goal 8: University of Wollongong Australia – 10th
Goal 10: University of East London – 2nd
Goal 10: University of Wollongong – 5th
Goal 10: King’s College London – 8th
Goal 11: University of Sydney – 2nd
Goal 11: King’s College London – 7th
Goal 15: University of Sydney – 5th
Goal 16: University of Sydney – 10th

Congratulations to all!

In collaboration with THE, the second edition of the rankings included all 17 UN SDGs, and also included some aspects of teaching for the first time. We believe that universities can support the delivery of UN SDGs in 4 ways:

  • Research – by searching for new solutions and knowledge related to the SDGs
  • Stewardship – by being responsible for their own consumption and sustainability
  • Outreach – by working directly with their communities, regions and nations
  • Teaching – by inculcating a sustainable mindset in their students and alumni


If you are interested in learning more about how to demonstrate impact and prepare for research impact assessment, we are here to help. You can contact us directly by emailing and we will answer any of your queries.