A triumph for Africa: University of Pretoria achieves unprecedented global success in 2024 THE Impact Rankings

Posted on June 14, 2024

PRETORIA – The University of Pretoria (UP) has entered the top 50 in the global 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings for the first time, jumping to 42nd in the world in 2024 from 69th in 2023.

The THE Impact Rankings measure actions taken by higher education institutions around the world toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

In the latest rankings, released on Wednesday, 12 June 2024, UP is also placed 2nd in South Africa and 2nd in Africa, out of a record 2 152 universities institutions from 125 countries/ regions ranked in 2024. This marks a 26% increase over 2023, and significantly up from the fewer than 400 institutions that were ranked in the inaugural THE Impact Rankings in 2019.

The 2024 results were announced at THE’s Global Sustainable Development Congress in Bangkok, Thailand. The African continent now has 230 universities ranked across the 18 impact tables, up from 106 in 2023.

UP is also:

  • Ranked in the Top 10 universities in the world for two SDGs, with a notable 8th place in the world (out of 1 093 ranked universities) for both SDG 1, “No Poverty” (first appearance), and SDG 8, “Decent Work and Economic Growth”(out of 1 149 ranked universities). The majority of African universities submitted data on SDG 1, and UP’s ranking of 8th in the world and 2nd in Africa is a remarkable achievement.
  • Ranked in the Top 20 universities in the world for one SDG, a notable 19th place globally (out of 1 361 ranked universities) for SDG 5, “Gender Equality”.
  • Ranked in the Top 100 universities in the world for three SDGs: SDG 2, “Zero Hunger” (63rd out of 803 ranked universities); SDG 10, “Reduced Inequalities” (88th out of 1 108 ranked universities); and SDG 17, “Partnerships for the Goals” (65th out of 2 031 ranked universities).
  • Ranked in the Top 200 universities in the world for six SDGs: SDG 3, “Good Health and Wellbeing” (101-200); SDG 4, “Quality Education” (101-200); SDG 9, “Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure”; SDG 12, “Responsible Consumption and Production” (101-200) – first appearance; SDG 15, “Life on Land” (101-200); and SDG 16, “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions” (101-200).
  • In South Africa, UP is ranked 1st in two SDGs (2 and 15); and ranked 2nd in 10 SDGs (1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17).
  • In Africa, UP is ranked 1st in two SDGs (2 and 15); ranked 2nd in five SDGs (1, 5, 8, 9, and 10); ranked 3rd in three SDGs (3, 16 and 17); and ranked 4th in SDG 12.

“The University’s best Impact Rankings result to date is evidence of its commitment to a more sustainable and equitable future for everyone,” said Interim UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Themba Mosia. “UP is proud to achieve this outstanding result, which reflects our long-standing focus on driving positive societal impact through transformative education, innovation, research and partnerships with communities around the world. UP’s community should be very proud of this year’s results, as they show that our institution’s commitment to tackling the world’s greatest challenges remains strong, and is supported by real action. This recognition highlights the dedicated efforts of our academic staff, professional staff, postdoctoral fellows, students and research associates in creating meaningful change. This is a collective achievement for our academic and professional staff, students and partners at all levels. Thank you and well done to everyone involved.”

UP submitted over 300 pieces of evidence for evaluation by THE adjudicators, highlighting institutional operations, policies, research outputs and strategies involving collaborative work by dozens of departments and units across the university. THE’s evaluation analyses this evidence using 100 metrics and 220 measurements to judge overall performance, including research output related to SDGs. It is the sixth year of the THE Impact Rankings, which show that the higher education sector is having an outsized impact on the world’s progress towards the SDGs across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach and teaching. The SDGs came into force in 2016, and set a 15-year agenda. The Impact Rankings include 17 individual rankings for each of the 17 SDGs, as well as an overall ranking – and the results rank a highly diverse, international and interesting range of high-impact universities, often outside the traditional elite names. Universities around the world are embracing the THE Impact Rankings as a vital framework to recognise, measure, benchmark and incentivise the work they do to make the world a better place.

As well as providing data for individual universities and offering guidance for prospective students, the rankings and the data behind them are providing a new international framework to understand the role of universities in the drive to meet the SDGs, and a tool to guide policy, investment and international collaboration decisions to support university impact.

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