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Northumbria achieves highest ever world ranking for sustainability

12th June 2024

Northumbria University has been ranked among the top 50 institutions in the world for sustainability in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024.

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which are published today (Wednesday 12 June) are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Northumbria achieved its highest ever position in Times Highers’ Impact league table, climbing to joint 48th in the world and within the top 10 in the UK, from almost 1,700 universities worldwide.

The University scored especially well for its stewardship activities, ranking within the top 10 in the world.

The Impact Rankings rate universities for their work in research, stewardship, outreach and teaching against the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, known as SDGs. The goals recognise that global work to end poverty, tackle climate change and ensure sustainability must go hand-in-hand with strategies to improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth.

The stewardship metric shows that a university is leading by example and running as sustainably as possible. This includes activities such as energy efficient renovation and building, water re-use policies, and providing sustainable food choices and tracking food waste on campus.

Northumbria also scored highly for its work related to the goals around decent work and economic growth; life on land; responsible consumption and production and affordable and clean energy, ranking within the top 40 in the world in all of these areas.

Professor Andy Long, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University said: “Universities can have significant impact on sustainability through their operational activities, but it is the influence they bring to bear more widely – on students, cities and regions through their role as anchor institutions, and the national and international research communities – that has the biggest impact on driving sustainability. Leading by example is essential if we are to have credibility within these communities.

“Our strategy is to change lives through education and research, to tackle the global challenges of our age, driving sustainability through our research, education and operations. While we are well known for our world-leading research in areas such as renewable energy materials, ice sheets and volunteering, humanitarian crises and development, we recognise that our operational activities have an impact on the environment and the wider community, and we work hard to maximise our positive contribution in many ways.”

Speaking on some of the University’s stewardship activities, Professor George Marston, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Projects and Chair of Northumbria University’s Sustainability Management Group, said: “We were the first university in the UK to introduce Too Good To Go, an app that allows users to purchase meals that would have otherwise gone to waste at a reduced price. We also take part in the OLIO scheme which connects our catering outlets with the local community to share and donate leftover food.

“As we refurbish our campus, we are committed to investing in energy projects that utilise onsite renewable generation, including site electricity generation via PV arrays and buildings that can operate with renewable heat technologies, such as heat pumps. We have a zero non-hazardous waste to landfill policy, and we donate thousands of unwanted items to charity each year both through the British Heart Foundation Pack for Good Scheme and through donations of unwanted furniture arising from refurbishment projects.

“Northumbria University has a deep-rooted commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and we are delighted to see this is evidenced in our performance in Times Higher Education’s Impact Ranking.”

The University’s achievement in Times Higher Education’s Impact Ranking comes just a few months after it was rated First Class and named the highest ranked university in the North East in the People & Planet University League.

Click here to read more on environmental sustainability at Northumbria and how the University’s activities support each of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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