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31 October 2022
World Rankings confirm UWC’s positive contribution to Sustainable Development Goals
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has been able to increase its score in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) Rankings.

UWC is ranked on all 17 SDGs and has shown a notable annual improvement.

In 2015 all United Nations Member States adopted The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet”. 

There are 17 SDGs which recognise that “ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests”.

On the SDG Indicator No Poverty, UWC ranks 101-200 out of 769 institutions with a score of 66.0, and in this SDG 1, research in this category is 91.0%.

Similarly, on the SDG Indicator Reduced Inequalities, UWC ranks 101-200 out of 769 institutions with a score of 72.4, and in this SDG 10, research in this category is 86.1%.

In the impact rankings UWC’s overall score is 67.8 out of 100. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at UWC, Professor José Frantz, said a conversation needs to take place on how universities are ranked and surveyed: “There are different types of rankings currently being used across the world. One of the continued discussions around these rankings is how they can be used for collaboration rather than competition.”

She added: “It’s important to note that when taking these rankings into consideration the university context needs to be considered. UWC, as a historically disadvantaged institution, has played a major role in various areas in terms of research, teaching and learning, and community engagement, and yet we do not seem to move in the rankings.” 

Prof Frantz said in many aspects, the rankings raise more questions than answers: “We are contributing in significant ways to transforming our communities. So why is the impact we make not contributing to us rising in the rankings? What could be the possible cause of this? Are we not hitting the correct journals to be cited? Are we not showcasing the university enough, because when you get to sit at the THE rankings conference as I did last week, you hear the leading universities doing the same things we are doing?”

Prof Frantz was part of the UWC team that travelled to the USA for the announcement of the recent Time Higher Education world rankings. She attended the THE world academic summit where she was a panellist speaking about partnerships and collaborations as part of the theme,  “Trajectories in Higher Education: Meeting Rising Expectations”.

She said: “One of the topics that arose at the session was around interdisciplinary teaching and learning, which our Faculty of Community and Health Sciences has effectively incorporated into the undergraduate programme and, more recently, postgraduate programmes.”

“Thus, for me, the question we should be asking is, what is the impact we are making in the lives of our students, the communities they come from and our neighbouring countries through our research and teaching? How do we share this impact in a way that is meaningful? UWC is contributing to the transformation of South African society, and the examples can be used in international settings. We should thus look at universities through the lens of the impact they are making, and contribution to the SDG 2030 is one example,” said Prof Frantz.
UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were discussed in length during June's SDG Indaba, partly organised by UWC