International comparison of impact of universities: University of Oulu is a strong promoter of sustainable development
The THE (Times Higher Education) University Impact 2020 comparison examines the effectiveness of universities in reaching the 17 UN goals for sustainable development aimed at advancing the well-being of people, the environment, and the economy.
The University of Oulu was first among Finnish institutions in three Sustainable Development Goals: “good health and well-being”, “quality education”, and “decent work and economic growth”. In addition, Oulu shared first-place rankings in three other SDGs: “gender equality”, “sustainable industry, innovations, and infrastructures”, and “sustainable cities and communities”. Last year it had only two first-place rankings.
In an overall comparison of Finnish universities, the University of Oulu rose to a shared third place with three other universities. In last year's comparison Oulu ranked between spots 5 and 6. Contributing to the rise was that the University of Helsinki did not take part in the University Impact Rankings this year.
The activities of the universities were evaluated from several different angles to assess the implementation of the goals. Questions related to the goal for sustainable industry, innovations, and infrastructure included, for example, the number of spin-offs, the amount of research funding, and the number of academic personnel. As is the case with other target themes, research publications related to the goal were also considered.
In the international comparison, the rankings of nearly all Finnish universities declined. The University of Oulu falls between 301 and 400 (201-300). The primary reason for this is that the number of universities in this year's rankings rose by several hundred over last year. This year more than 1,100 universities were evaluated.
The University of Oulu purposefully promotes sustainable development through research, societal interaction, and campus development. The university is committed in its values to act responsibly toward society and the environment, to seek solutions for the sustainable use of the earth's resources, and to make ecologically responsible choices in its activities. In research, the areas of strength in sustainable development are the sustainable and responsible use of natural resources, the bioeconomy and circular economy, the impact of environmental factors on health, research on the changing environment in the Arctic and boreal zone, and how globalisation and environmental change impact human interaction and communities.