Last week Times Higher Education, one of the most well-regarded global analysts of comparative university performance, announced their global University Impact Rankings, which seek to capture universities’ impact on society based on their success in delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The University of Pretoria is proud to have been ranked within the top 100 universities in the world in terms of their impact regarding SDG 16, the goal aimed at reducing violence, pursuing access to justice and building effective institutions.

The score was designed to reflect not only the research undertaken directly related to SDG 16, but also the University’s internal governance procedures, the proportion of its graduates in law and civil enforcement related courses, and its engagement with local, regional and national government policy-making and capacity building.  When taken together the University scored 76/100, and was ranked joint 68th (of more than 450 ranked institutions).

ICLA and the wider Law Faculty can proudly point to a number of initiatives that will have contributed to this ranking.  Its programme “Freedom from Violence” draws its research agenda explicitly from SDG 16, and a number of its doctoral students are undertaking research in this field. The role of members of staff as advisors to governmental departments, and of scholars in undertaking key legislative research, will also have played a role. The National Schools Moot is a paradigmatic case of how universities can collaborate directly with Governmental departments in order to implement a nationwide programme (in this, coincidentally, also aimed at a key purpose of SDG 16 as well as SDG 4, namely education about the national and international framework of rights protection).  Meanwhile the Centre for Human Rights’ advanced “short courses” are part of the broader capacity-building that the University offers governmental stakeholders.

Moreover, as recognised research experts on many of the issues agglomerated under SDG 16, in 2018/2019 researchers at ICLA played an instrumental part in the University’s support of Statistics South Africa in preparing the first national SDG Report, that was presented at the UN General Assembly last September.

SDG 16 was the Goal for which the University was ranked highest, but it also performed commendably with respect to the other four SDGs for which it put itself forward for comparison, ranking 94th for SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure; joint 96th for SDG 4 on education and between 100th and 200th for both SDG 3 on health and wellbeing and SDG 17 on partnerships to achieve the Goals. Overall the University achieved a score of 76/100, placing it in a ranking position between 101-200 (of more than 750 ranked institutions)