Sunday 15 September 2019

Irish universities among 'best in the world' when it comes to gender equality and climate action

University College Cork
University College Cork
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Irish universities rank among the best in the world in meeting global goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring peace and prosperity for all.

Five of Ireland’s seven universities are in the top 100 of the first ever international league table measuring their commitment to areas such as gender equality, climate action and sustainable cities and communities.

University College Cork (UCC) is the highest placed, at 21st, boosted by its best in-the-world rating for responsible consumption and its approach to sustainable use of resources.

UCC is followed by Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University of Limerick (UL), University College Dublin (UCD) and Dublin City University (DCU).

As well as featuring prominently throughout the list, Irish universities are a global second – behind Canada and ahead of Australia – based on average scores.

More than 550 universities in 80 countries were rated against 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the results are based on data collected from the universities themselves and the  information analytics company, Elsevier.

It included looking at universities’ policies on academic freedom, their use of secure employment contracts and their share of senior female academic staff.

The University Impact Rankings are compiled by the UK-based Times Higher Education (THE) and represent a new way of looking at university excellence that goes beyond the teaching and research focus of traditional rankings.

New Zealand’s University of Auckland tops the table largely thanks to its scores for two of the goals including good-health and well-being, with Canada’s McMaster University claiming second position.

UL ranked 35th and its president Dr Des Fitzgerald, said it was “very heartening as the social and economic impact of a university had to be one of the most important performance indicators of any higher education institution globally.

UL was fourth worldwide in the Decent Work and Economic Growth category, which reflects the quality of the work environment at the university for all employees, as well as a focus on equipping students for employment.

Ellie Bothwell, global rankings editor at THE, said the rankings recognised “ the fantastic work that universities do for the good of society to tackle some of our most pressing global issues – work that often goes unrecognised and undocumented.

The results in this inaugural edition shake up our very notion of what excellence looks like”.

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