The University of Cape Town (UCT) tied at 50th position in the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings: Sustainability 2024, released on 5 December.
Various universities, depending on their context, location and geography, have different approaches in which they action tackling the world’s most significant environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. This second edition of the QS Sustainability Rankings recognises these varied methods.
Well positioned to catalyse and propel sustainable development, universities offer the unique perspective of being a hub of expertise: through research, teaching, strong governance and community engagement. A crucial goal is ensuring future generations of students have the opportunity to be educated in the importance of this topic with its implications for our societies.
“As we approach the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the next decade, the imperative for higher education institutions to actively live out these commitments in their teaching, learning and research has never been greater,” said UCT’s deputy vice-chancellor for Research and Internationalisation, Professor Sue Harrison.
“The focus and emphasis of UCT’s Vision 2030 is to become an institution that serves Africa and its unique needs while contributing new knowledge with global reach.”
“The key to the SDGs’ sustainability and success lies in their adoption and implementation by local stakeholders. The focus and emphasis of UCT’s Vision 2030 is to become an institution that serves Africa and its unique needs while contributing new knowledge with global reach.
“We have a strong commitment to ‘walk our talk’ both at home on our campus, in our communities, and abroad. This integrated vision, intentionally, embodies both the frameworks of the SDGs and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the latter of which provides continent-specific goals. Overall, our performance in this ranking demonstrates our commitment to building a sustainable global future, using these frameworks as a guiding tool in our actions towards tackling global challenges,” Harrison added.
In this edition of the Sustainability Rankings, QS ranked 1 403 institutions, of which 43 were from Africa and 12 from South Africa.
To produce this ranking, QS uses three broad categories. Within each category there are a series of performance lenses, composed of an aggregated set of individual metrics with variable weightings:
Performance in the categories
UCT’s best performance was in the Environmental Impact category in which it ranked 25th. This was an increase of 132 places on last year. Within this category, performance improved across all three lens areas with an exceptional result for Environmental Sustainability, which placed 16th.
The Social Impact category ranked at 133rd position, which was down 32 places compared to the last round, but Equality moved up to a strong position at 101st.
In the newly introduced Governance category, UCT was ranked 82nd.
THE Impact Rankings
Earlier this year, UCT was placed in the 101–200 band in the overall Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2023, which assess universities against the SDGs across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching.
The university ranked 9th in SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation, 47th in SDG 5 – gender equality, 51st in SDG 1 – no poverty, and tied 76th in SDG 17 – partnerships for the goals. UCT was placed in the 101–200 band in another five: SDG 3 – good health and wellbeing, SDG 8 – decent work and economic growth, SDG 10 – reduced inequalities, SDG 11 – sustainable cities and communities and SDG 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions.
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