Impact Rankings 2023: results announced

Three Australian and four Canadian institutions among top 10 of THE ranking exploring progress of universities worldwide towards achieving SDGs

June 1, 2023
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An Australian institution again leads the pack in Times Higher Education’s 2023 Impact Rankings.

Western Sydney University claims the Impact title for the second year running with a near-perfect score. It is joined by two more Australian institutions in the top 10: the University of Tasmania in fifth place and RMIT University in joint seventh.

This is the fourth time that a university from Australasia has topped the only ranking measuring universities’ contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since the league table was established in 2019.

Canadian universities occupy four spots in the top 10 – Queen’s University (third), the University of Alberta (joint seventh), the University of Victoria and Western University (both in joint ninth).

The UK’s University of Manchester is second in the ranking, making it the top European institution, with Denmark’s Aalborg University in joint ninth place in the overall table of more than 1,500 universities.

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Universities can submit data to be measured against any of the goals, and any university that provides data on SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals) and at least three other SDGs is included in the overall ranking. A university’s total score in a given year is calculated by combining its score in SDG 17 with its top three scores out of the remaining SDGs.

The score for the overall ranking is an average of institutions’ total scores over the past two years.

THE Impact Rankings 2023: the top 10

2023 rank



Overall score


Western Sydney University




University of Manchester

United Kingdom



Queen’s University




Universiti Sains Malaysia




University of Tasmania




Arizona State University (Tempe)

United States



University of Alberta




RMIT University




Aalborg University




University of Victoria




Western University



Rufus Black, vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania, said universities must serve as role models in bringing about change on key societal issues, from “the smallest of steps to the bold and fundamental shifts”.

“At a practical level, as large organisations, we are large consumers, large employers, large drivers in our local economies, and that means the steps we take towards sustainability at an operational level can have significant impacts,” he said.

Of those countries in the overall ranking, New Zealand and Australia had the largest proportion of universities in the top 100 of all 112 countries (88 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively). They were closely followed by Canada (62 per cent).

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Impact Rankings 2023 digital edition

Patrick Deane, principal and vice-chancellor of Canada’s Queen’s University, which sits third in the overall table, explained that the SDGs had been baked into how the institution defines itself and understands its mission as a global institution.

“The Impact Rankings have served as a catalyst, bringing together our community and focusing our efforts on solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges,” he said.

With 26 of its 57 ranked institutions (46 per cent) placing in the top 100, the UK is home to more universities represented in the top tier of the Impact Rankings than any other nation.

It is followed by Canada (16 institutions), Australia (15) and the US and New Zealand (seven each).

Per Michael Johansen, rector of Aalborg University, one of Denmark’s only two universities ranked overall, echoed his global colleagues on the urgency of the problems that higher education must help to solve.

“When universities are paramount in this effort, it is because we develop the new and crucial technologies that enable us to combat things like global warming, hunger and pollution,” he said.

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