Scottish universities delivery to UN goals highlighted in new world rankings

Universities Scotland has welcomed global rankings that demonstrate Scottish universities are at the forefront of the United Nations’ (UN) sustainable development goals (SDGs) for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. A record ten universities from Scotland participated with four Scottish institutions featuring in the top 100.

Four of Scotland’s universities: Glasgow (13), Strathclyde (36), Edinburgh (52) and Aberdeen (70), feature in the top 100 universities across the world. This means that as nation, Scotland comes sixth overall in top 100 representation, alongside Ireland and Thailand, and ahead of nations with much bigger populations such as South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Mexico.

Three universities from Scotland (St Andrews, Robert Gordon and SRUC) have entered the rankings for the first time in 2023, and all ten Scottish universities score in the top half of the rankings.

The Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2023 assesses universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across four areas: research, stewardship, outreach and teaching.

In its fifth year, the THE Impact Rankings sees 1,705 universities from 115 countries and regions ranked on work across the UN’s SDGs. The Impact Rankings rates institutional impact across 18 tables; one for each of the 17 different SDGs, which include issues such as climate action and reduced inequalities, as well as an overall ranking on SDG impact.

Responding to the 2023 THE Impact Rankings, Universities Scotland Director, Alastair Sim said:

It is immensely rewarding to see Scotland’s universities featuring so prominently when it comes to making a positive impact on Sustainable Development.

 “Our universities exist to serve their communities, both local and global, and part of the university role is to support the development of a positive future, helping to ensure it is more equitable and sustainable for humanity and the planet. Our universities will continue to be active in their mission to contribute to the common good.”



  • The ten Scottish universities in the 2023 rankings are: University of Aberdeen; University of Dundee; University of Edinburgh; University of Glasgow; Glasgow Caledonian University; Robert Gordon University; University of St Andrews; SRUC; University of Strathclyde; University of the West of Scotland.
  • View the full Impact Rankings 2023 results [link live at 11.30am BST, Thursday 1 June]
  • View the full Impact Rankings 2023 methodology [link live at 11.30am BST, Thursday 1 June]
  • Top 100 rankings by nation:
Pos. Nation No. of universities in top 100
1 England 19
2 Canada 16
3 Australia 15
4= New Zealand

United States

6= Ireland



9= South Korea


11= Italy



South Africa


16= China


Hong Kong




Northern Ireland