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21 April 2021

King's ranked 11th in the world for social and environmental impact

King’s recognised for delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the 2021 THE Impact Rankings.


King’s has been ranked eleventh in the world, second in the UK and fourth in Europe in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, in recognition of the university’s positive social and environmental impact. This prestigious recognition comes in the third edition of the THE Impact Rankings, which assessed submissions from more than 1,000 institutions from across the world.

The pioneering THE Impact Rankings use the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for reporting on the social and environmental impact of universities. The SDGs are a set of 17 goals approved by the 193 member states of the UN which aim to transform the world by 2030. The metrics assessed include the impact of universities’ teaching, research, stewardship and outreach within their local, national and international communities. It is the first university ranking to focus on the broader social contributions of higher education institutions.

I am very proud that King’s has been recognised for our commitment to serving society and delivering the SDGs in the 2021 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. Our students, staff, alumni and community partners fulfil this commitment in a number of inspirational ways and this achievement would not be possible without their dedication to bringing about real and lasting change.

Professor Bronwyn Parry, Interim Vice President & Vice Principal (Service)

In the 2021 THE Impact Rankings, King’s was especially recognised for supporting strong institutions and promoting peace and justice, ranking fourth in the world for SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’. This metric assesses universities’ research on law and international relations, their participation as advisers for government and their policies on academic freedom.

The university also ranked highly for our work with local, national and international partners, placing tenth in the world for SDG 17 ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, which is the only goal all participating universities must provide data on to be included in the overall ranking. King’s successfully delivers against this goal through cross-sectoral dialogue with government bodies and NGOs, international collaboration and research, local and global student volunteering programmes, and our commitment to Service-learning and civic engagement.

Our greatest improvement was for SDG 13 ‘Climate Action’, which saw us increase 30 positions, placing King’s among the top 20 universities in the world for acting to address climate issues. This metric assesses universities’ research on climate change, their use of energy and their preparations for dealing with the consequences of climate change. King’s has had great success in this area, having recently fully divested from all fossil fuels, almost two years ahead of target.

King’s also ranked sixth in the world (joint with Simon Fraser University) for SDG 11 ’Sustainable Cities and Communities’, which explores the interaction between universities and their communities, as well as the role universities play in protecting the environment and acting as custodians of history, culture and heritage.

The university’s other top contributing goal was SDG 3 ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’, which assesses the contribution of universities to tackling diseases such as COVID-19, support for healthcare professions, and services provided for the health and wellbeing of students and staff.

It’s amazing that King’s has been recognised by Times Higher Education for our continued commitment to positive social impact. Great importance is placed on encouraging students to be civically minded at King’s and there is a wide range of programmes that provide an opportunity for students to solve some of the challenges faced in our communities. It's fantastic to know that our contributions are meaningful and I feel proud to be part of an institution that serves the needs and aspirations of society alongside offering a world-class education.

Marianne Odetola, BA Geography student

With more than 1,200 universities from 98 countries/regions participating and all 17 UN SDGs assessed, the 2021 THE Impact Rankings is significantly larger than the previous two editions, with the 2020 rankings assessing submissions from 859 universities from 89 territories, while the 2019 inaugural rankings were based on assessments from 560 universities across 11 SDGs.*

At King’s we believe that ‘Our Deeds Define Us’. Last year brought home the importance and urgency of serving our local, national and international communities. By working together, our staff, students and our partners have all made this possible. We are immensely proud that this commitment has been recognised in the 2021 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which demonstrate the broader social responsibility of universities.

Professor Evelyn Welch, Interim President & Principal and Provost (Arts & Sciences)

The ethos of King’s is to make the world a better place, going above and beyond what is expected of a university. That is why Service is the third and equal part of our academic mission, alongside Education and Research. Service at King’s embodies our commitment to delivering positive social impact at home in London, across the UK and around the world.

Find out more about Service at King’s and what it means to the King’s community in the below video.

Find out more

*1,240 institutions from 98 countries/regions submitted data for the 2021 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which was assessed across 18 separate league tables for each SDG. 1,115 universities met the criteria to be ranked in the overall list, which included a compulsory submission for SDG17 and at least three other SDGs.

In this story

Professor Bronwyn Parry

Visiting Professor

Photograph of Evelyn Welch

Former Senior Vice President (Service, People & Planning)