THE University of Limerick has ranked 35th globally in the first ever Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings and first in Ireland for gender equality.
The unique ranking is designed to measure the impact of an academic institution on society, based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
UL is ranked 35th overall in the 2019 list, published this Wednesday by Times Higher Education (THE), which is the data provider underpinning university excellence in every continent across the world.
UL attained the position based on its performance in a number of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) rankings, including placing fourth worldwide in Decent Work and Economic Growth, which was the best performance by any Irish university in this measure and third in Europe.
UL’s performance under this goal reflects the quality of the work environment at the university for all employees, as well as a focus on equipping students for employment. UL has the largest Co-Operative Education programme nationally and this is directly linked to UL’s leadership in terms of graduate employability.
UL also showed a very strong performance in the rankings covering Sustainable Cities and Communities (23), Partnership for the Goals (32), Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (36), Gender Equality (81) and Good Health and Wellbeing (85). UL’s commitment to an open, sustainable and healthy campus positively affected this ranking and in particular, the sporting and cultural amenities on campus and their impact on art and heritage regionally and nationally were a factor.
UL’s ranking in the Gender Equality category is also the highest of any university in Ireland. UL was granted an Athena Swan Bronze award in 2015 for advancing gender equality.
Reacting to UL’s ranking, UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald, said: “The social and economic impact of a university has to be one of the most important performance indicators of any higher education institution globally. It is therefore very heartening to have University of Limerick endorsed by Times Higher Education for the impact our institution is having regionally, nationally and internationally.
“Universities must drive innovation, development, inclusivity, equality and investment in order to achieve an impact for societal and economic change,” he added.
The league table, featuring over 550 universities, is the first to measure global third level institutions’ successes in delivering on United Nations targets, some 17 in total which were adopted by the UN in 2016 and include providing for inclusive education, achieving gender equality and sustainable development.
“The Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking analysed evidence from over 550 universities from 80 countries in order to measure their societal and economic impact, using 11 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” explained Ellie Bothwell, Rankings Editor, Times Higher Education.
“Irish institutions were some of the world’s top performers in this ranking and for the University of Limerick to place so well against such strong competition is something for which their students and staff should be extremely proud.”
The ranking was open to all accredited universities teaching undergraduates. Data was collected to produce an overall ranking of universities based on the best four or five Sustainable Development Goals per university. THE used indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach, and stewardship.
Dr Mary Shire, UL’s Vice-President Research and Enterprise, said: “UL’s inclusion on the list marks us out among global leaders, demonstrating the institution’s strategic commitment to societal and economic impact of excellent research and knowledge transfer. The University not only supports the Sustainable Development Goals through its teaching and research, but also embodies the goals in its organisational culture and provides verifiable evidence of its contribution to the world.
“UL has always had a focus on impact and this ranking is an international validation of our performance,” she added.