QS awards gold and silver to Dal for commitment to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals

- August 27, 2021

Dalhousie's gold medal places it in the top 20 per cent of ranked universities. (File photo)
Dalhousie's gold medal places it in the top 20 per cent of ranked universities. (File photo)

Dalhousie University has earned gold and silver medals for its commitment to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a new layer of insight added to this year’s QS World University Rankings (QS WUR)

The ratings focused on university research into SDGs related to the environment and related to inequality.  

Dal’s gold medal was awarded in Environmental Impact. The silver medal was in Equal Opportunities. Since 2018, Dalhousie’s research strategy has been grounded in the UN SDGs and this focus shines through in these results.  

Only the top 20 per cent of eligible institutions with the best scores for each group qualified as gold medalists. The next 30 percent were labelled silver, with bronze for the following 30 percent and the last 20 percent marked as candidate. 

Dalhousie is one of only 13 universities in Canada to receive a gold medal, and is the only university in Atlantic Canada with a gold rating.

Research productivity relating to the SDGs 

The ratings are based on an evaluation of the relative productivity of a university's research relating to the SDGs. The methogology examines both the output, and the impact of that output, to arrive at a scaled score. 

Data for the evaluation was provided by Elsevier SciVal, which maps each SDG to specific publication keywords. QS then combined the total citation count for an institution in the given SDG field, the field-weighted citation impact of each paper and the share of citations in top academic sources on a sliding scale to ensure that the more expertise a university has, the more credibility its indicators have. 

The eligibility threshold was placement among the top three quartiles based on the total number of papers for the corresponding SDGs, adjusted by the institutions’ research footprint relative to the global median paper output in that SDG. 

Environmental Impact and Equal Opportunities 

The choice to focus on just two categories: environment and inequality, was partially inspired by a 2019 QS report that found 94 per cent of prospective international students thought that universities should be doing more to be environmentally sustainable.  

The category of Environmental Impact measured a university’s research productivity related to Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 14: Life Below Water and Goal 15: Life on Land.  

The Equal Opportunities category measured research related to Goal 5: Gender Equality and Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities. 

Contributing to the solution

The SDG Ratings are a new layer of information that have been added to this year’s QS World University Rankings, which recently saw Dal taking its place among the top 21 per cent worldwide.

Read more: Dalhousie climbs higher in QS World University Rankings as competitive pool swells

These results complement Dalhousie’s top 200 placement in the Times Higher Education (THE) 2021 Impact Rankings, which also assess and evaluate university success in delivering on the SDGs.

Read more: Dalhousie ranks among top 200 universities actively contributing to a better future for everyone

An important part of Canadian university strategies, the 17 SDGs were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the Goals. Rankings that evaluate and showcase Dal's contribution in relation to the SDGs provide valuable insight into the university's success in working toward a better future.


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