Malaysian varsities creating positive impact

Sustainable goals: USM is driving change with impactful programmes.

TWO of the country’s top varsities have done us proud.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Malaya (UM) are the only local institutions to make it into the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2020 overall top 100 list, beating other world class institutions.

USM and UM secured the 65th and 80th spot respectively in the latest edition of the rankings released on Wednesday.

The rankings assessed institutions’ worldwide on their commitment towards the United Nations (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

This is the first university ranking to use this criteria, rather than traditional metrics, such as reputation and research prestige.

USM vice-chancellor Prof Dr Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan said the institution was proud and excited to be listed among the “leaders of the pack” in THE’s Impact Rankings 2020.

Expressing gratitude to staff and students who know the importance of creating impact on society, Prof Faisal Rafiq said USM will not rest on its laurels but continue to put in effort in creating a positive impact among society instead.

“Although it may seem that there is a drop from the overall position of 49 (in 2019) to 65, it is understandable as the methodology and evaluations are much stricter than the previous year.

“We also noted the increased participation from 450 universities in 2019 to 766 in the 2020 overall listing and the expansion of evaluation from 11 goals to the full range of SDG’s 17 goals,” he told StarEdu.

Prior to the introduction of the SDGs, USM had started working on matters of impact since 2002.

This, he said, was testament that their accelerated programme for excellence (Apex) status which was awarded in 2008, had been critical in positioning the country as a nation of impact.

“We believe that quality education can act as an agent of change that is not only able to uplift the economic status of society but also bring equality to the people of the world.”USM was ranked 12th best in the world in SDG 1 (No Poverty), and it also emerged in the top 50 in SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals).

It also secured spots in the top 100 and 200 for all the other SDGs.

THE chief knowledge officer Phil Baty said its Impact Rankings highlighted that universities are the greatest hope of solving some of the world’s biggest challenges.

“We’ve had a phenomenal response from institutions across the globe.

“Universities from Afghanistan to Vietnam have taken part, and a number of top 100 spots are held by universities from countries and regions that have never appeared in the upper echelons of the traditional THE world rankings before like Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico. “These rankings prove that traditional barriers to success like wealth or research prestige don’t matter when it comes to doing great things for sustainability,” he said.New Zealand’s University of Auckland took the number one spot in the overall ranking for

the second year running, despite an additional 301 participating institutions.Australia’s University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and La Trobe University took second, third and fourth position respectively.

The rest of the top ten were made up of Arizona State University (United State), University of Bologna (Italy), University of British Columbia (Canada), University of Manchester and King’s College London (Britain), and RMIT University (Australia).

In total, 857 universities from 89 countries and regions across six continents have been ranked for at least one SDG and 766 are included in the overall ranking.

The ranking provides a measure of the extent to which universities are having a positive social and economic impact on the planet, from climate action and gender equality, to good health and wellbeing, among other areas.

Following the success of last year’s inaugural Impact Rankings, the 2020 Rankings now recognise and celebrate the global efforts of those achieving progress against all 17 SDGs, up from 11 SDGs in 2019.

The 17 SDGs include No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Reduced Inequality, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water, Life on Land, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and Partnerships to achieve the Goal.

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