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Change the world


The Times Higher Education [THE] Impact Rankings are global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – essentially measuring higher education institutions’ contribution to the SDGs. 

Measuring this contribution and the impact that the institution is having is especially important to Nelson Mandela University as it strives to be in service of society.

The 2021 Impact Rankings is the third edition, and the overall ranking includes 1 115 universities from 94 countries or regions. This was the first year that Mandela University participated in the THE Impact Rankings and the submissions were based on an extensive mapping exercise that was carried out across all faculties and departments. Based on the results of this exercise, three SDGs were chosen for submission to the THE Impact Rankings and the University submitted reports for Good Health and Wellbeing [SDG 3], Life Below Water [SDG 14] and Life on Land [SDG 15], as well as the compulsory submission required for Partnerships for the Goals [SDG 17].

The ranking report shows that Mandela University ranked 4th in South Africa with the University of Johannesburg, the University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town as the top three ranking universities. Nelson Mandela University’s strongest ranking SDG was Life Below Water [SDG 14] and the University is the only one in South Africa to rank in this SDG – and 40th globally. Partnerships [SDG 17] also ranked high, with Mandela University ranking highest in South Africa, together with the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria.

These results confirm the institution’s commitment to being an engaged university, to contribute to achieving the SDGs and to make a contribution to social and economic development. Moreover, they indicate that this commitment is being actioned to produce research to solve complex problems and develop initiatives that serve communities. Furthermore, Mandela University is in the process of developing an institutional Sustainability Sciences Hub that will serve to position the university as a champion for sustainability science that has a uniquely African focus. An entity that contributes to global sustainability - Africa based and owned, but globally enabled.

We are indeed extremely pleased with this achievement, as it exposes years of scholarly and programmatic focus, our University has paid on Sustainability Science and practices. We thank our Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Internationalisation, Dr Thandi Mgwebi, and all colleagues working with her, for making sure that this work is elevated through our participation in the THE Impact Rankings programme.

Professor Sibongile Muthwa

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777