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MU best in Czechia in QS Sustainability Rankings

A total of 1,403 higher education institutions from 95 countries were assessed in the second edition of the QS Sustainability Rankings, which evaluates the contribution of universities to tackling the challenges of sustainable development. Masaryk University is ranked first in the Czech Republic and 161st in the world.

It scored the highest in Knowledge Exchange, ranking 87th globally. The international QS Sustainability Rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds was introduced last year. The 2023 edition has undergone some significant changes, most notably doubling the number of universities included. Masaryk University has thus improved its position in the face of much tougher competition. Last year it was ranked 281-300 out of 700 universities.

According to the current methodology, the ranking is based on 53 parameters, which are grouped into 9 thematic indicators (Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Education, Environmental Research, Equality, Knowledge Exchange, Impact of Education, Employability and Outcomes, Health and Wellbeing and Good Governance), and these are further aggregated into three performance “lenses”: Social Impact, Environmental Impact and Governance. Twenty-four per cent of the rating is based on data sent to QS by the universities themselves. For the bulk of the assessment, QS then draws information from other sources, including Elsevier data, publicly available national statistics and third-party assessments.

The parameters monitored in the ranking include, for example, bibliometric results from the Scopus database, i.e. the quality of research related to sustainable development, as well as the public awareness and educational activities organised, the ethical values of the institution as stated in its strategy, the institution’s membership in prestigious international initiatives and organisations, support for people with disabilities, the activities of research centres dealing with environmental issues, the existence of a strategic commitment to sustainable development, and the involvement of students in the university’s decision-making processes. Purely quantitative parameters include data on the number of women among students, academics and university administrators, carbon dioxide production, and water and energy consumption. Two reputation surveys conducted by QS among academics and employers are also taken into account.

“When I first ran for Rector in 2019, I said that as a university we should aspire to be the best in the Czech Republic. I’m very pleased that we have succeeded in doing just that in the area of sustainability, as understood by the QS ranking. Our position among the top 200 universities in the world and first among Czech universities is a reflection of the values and principles on which our university is based and which it applies in all its activities. Last but not least, it is the fruit of our efforts to constantly improve and do better each time,” said Rector Martin Bareš.

Masaryk University improved its score in all original indicators in 2023. MU achieved the biggest year-on-year improvement in the Knowledge Exchange indicator, which has a 10% impact on the overall score. It improved its score from 57 last year to 91.3 this year, becoming the 87th highest-ranked institution in the world in this indicator. Universities are assessed based on their collaboration in publishing activities with institutions from developing countries, the provision of outreach programmes for the wider public, and citation rates in public documents directly related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1-6 and SDGs 8-10 (see figure for an overview of all UN SDGs).

Masaryk University scored well in the new governance indicator, which measures the ethics, transparency and environmental and democratic behaviour of an institution in terms of its internal regulations, structure, strategic documents and also the views of its staff (via the Academic Reputation Survey). The indicator has a weight of 10% in the overall assessment and MU scored 89.6 out of a possible 100, ranking 117th in the world.

In international comparison, Masaryk University also performed very well in other indicators, ranking in the top 200. In Equality with a weight of 12%, it scored 85.8 and ranked 173rd in the world. This indicator captures the institution’s scientific performance in relation to the themes of SDG 5 and SDG 10, its gender balance, the level of support provided to disadvantaged groups on campus, inclusivity in founding documents, and also includes the results of a reputation survey among academics, as well as national statistics on equality. In the Environmental Research indicator, with a weight of 13%, MU received a score of 87.4 and ranked 198th globally. The indicator tracks the institution’s scientific performance in connection with SDG 7 and SDG 11-15, citation rates in public documents, UNESCO national statistics on Global Spending on R&D, and the presence of a research centre for environmental research.

Among Czech universities, 10 institutions made it into the QS Sustainability Rankings this year, which is 6 more than last year. Charles University in Prague is ranked the second best Czech university after Masaryk University (172nd), followed by the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (323rd) and Palacký University Olomouc (422nd). Then follow Czech Technical University in Prague, University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Technical University of Ostrava, University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, Brno University of Technology and Mendel University in Brno. The University of Toronto (Canada), the University of California, Berkeley (USA) and the University of Manchester (UK) were the world’s top three.

Link to the results here.