UNSW leaps to 7th in world in 2024 THE Impact Rankings


Looking through the large circular clock statue on the lawn towards the multi-storey Main Library building in the distance.. Golden light shows under the large white entrance ceiling and a clear light blue sky behind the building.

UNSW Sydney is now a top 10 university in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

Abi Scott
Abi Scott,

The University has entered the top 10 in the rankings for the first time, jumping from 18th position in 2023.

UNSW Sydney has moved up in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, coming seventh in the world and fourth in Australia out of a record number of institutions in 2024.

The 2024 results were announced at THE’s Global Sustainable Development Congress in Bangkok where UNSW is leading two events. One is in partnership with the United Nations Development Coordination Office (UNDCO) and the other a workshop led by UNSW Cities Institute Director Professor Peter Poulet.

The THE Impact Rankings are the world's only ranking that measure universities' contribution to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and assess their commitment to sustainability across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach and teaching. Now in their sixth year, the rankings have been gaining momentum, with a record 2152 institutions from 125 countries participating in the 2024 overall ranking, up from 1705 in 2023.

The University ranked second in the world for SDG 13 Climate Action for the second year running and rose to third in the world for SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, propelling UNSW's move into the global top 10.

UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs said the University’s best Impact Rankings result to date is evidence of its commitment to a more sustainable and equitable future for everyone.

“UNSW is proud to achieve this outstanding result, which reflects our long-standing focus on driving positive societal impact through transformative education, innovative research and partnerships with communities around the world.

“Our expertise in sustainability, climate change and global development means we are uniquely positioned to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges and contribute towards advancing the SDGs.

“Our ambition for positive societal change drives all that we do, and we will continue to seek the real-world solutions needed to achieve a better future for all.”  

UNSW is proud to achieve this outstanding result, which reflects our long-standing focus on driving positive societal impact through transformative education, innovative research and partnerships with communities around the world.
Professor Attila Brungs
UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President

UNSW secures four top 10 places

UNSW secured 11 top 100 places, including four in the top 10. Its strongest performing areas are:  

  • SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation (3rd)
  • SDG 13 Climate Action (2nd)
  • SDG 14 Life Below Water (8th)
  • SDG 15 Life on Land (8th)

The University continued to achieve high marks in SDG 13 Climate Action, for its commitment to a carbon-neutral university, driven by the Environmental Sustainability Plan 2022-24, and supported by research excellence from a range of research centres including the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC), ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes (CLEx) and the UNSW Bushfire Research Group.

Associate Professor Bryce Kelly said, UNSW’s Environmental Sustainability Plan has helped capture UNSW’s continual commitment and the external impact of our work to improve the sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems and to translate research outcomes into effective climate action.”

UNSW’s new high ranking for SDG 6 reflects contributions to clean water and sanitation through campus operations, research and outreach.

Professor Greg Leslie, Director of the UNSW Global Water Institute said, “At UNSW, water research is a strength across all faculties, strong partnerships have been created over many years with communities and governments, and we are committed to conscious water use and re-use in everyday activities on campus.”

A highlight was the collaboration between social scientists and water engineers at Riverwood Community Centre. The project, funded by Sydney Water, aims to develop a community engagement model for local councils to improve community water knowledge and promote meaningful long-term connections with water.

Project lead Dr Marilu Melo Zurita from UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture said, “The wetlands are the centrepiece of the community’s engagement and recreational activities for families, yet awareness of how they connect to the wider water system and its purpose has not been explored. The UNSW team is working with local communities to maintain waterway health and build community knowledge of local stormwater management systems, such as wetlands, and water quality testing to address some of the disconnections between communities, water authorities and local water infrastructure.”

The University moved up to eighth in the world for both SDG 14 Life Below Water and SDG 15 Life on Land for its activities supporting ecosystems and increasing biodiversity including: the creation of living sea walls in Sydney; the reintroduction of mountain pygmy possums to the rainforest in Lithgow, golden bandicoots to the desert of far west NSW and platypuses to the Royal National Park; and the Kelp Forest Challenge to restore 1 million hectares of kelp forests worldwide by 2040.

UNSW’s SDGs ranked in the global top 100 are:

  • SDG 2 No Poverty (63rd)
  • SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy (81st)
  • SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (75th)
  • SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities (12th)
  • SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production (82nd)
  • SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (85th)
  • SD 17 Partnerships for the Goals (=35th)

How the ranking is calculated

For each SDG submitted, universities receive a score and ranking which considers a range of indicators, including a university’s research performance, campus management and operations, and community partnerships and collaborations. 

THE calculates a university’s Overall Ranking score by combining its score in SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals (=35th), with the scaled scores for its top three SDGs. The score for the overall ranking is an average of the current and previous year’s total scores.

Media enquiries

For enquiries about this story and interview requests please contact Abi Scott, Communications and Engagement Manager, Division of Societal Impact, Equity & Engagement.

Tel: +61 2 9065 3226 
Email: abi.scott@unsw.edu.au