An investigation into the results of Time’s Impact Ranking in 2020

An investigation into the results of Time’s Impact Ranking in 2020

Alzahra University Ranked 101-200



Adopting 11 of the 17 UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Times Higher Education initially started evaluating university performance in 2019 by offering impact ranking of 460 universities in the world. In 2020, the second edition of Times impact ranking was published and Alzahra University ranked second among Iranian universities and 201-300 at the international level. While in 2019, the number of Iranian universities shortlisted in "Impact Ranking" announcement was limited to 12, there were 766 universities from 86 countries listed in the 2020 edition of the rankings of which 17 were Iranian. Times 2019 impact ranking report was published on May 2nd but the results for this year was announced with some delay on Wednesday, May, 22nd. It is noteworthy that of the 850 universities from 89 countries that requested to participate in Times ranking system, some failed to meet the requirements and were excluded in the initial screenings. "Impact Ranking" is intended to evaluate social and economic roles of universities in realizing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals by higher education institutions.

Figure 1. List of the 17 Iranian Universities included in 2020 Impact Ranking


The status of Alzahra University in 2020 "Impact Rankings":

Like previous year, Alzahra University ranked second among Iranian universities and was placed after Iran University of Medical Sciences. In a more challenging competition, the number of Iranian universities in current year's ranking had increased from 11 to 17, and globally, 766 universities are now enlisted in comparison to 460 universities of the previous year. It is important to note that the global rank of Alzahra university was 201-300 in 2019 and 101-200 in 2020, which is a spectacular success for the university. Besides, all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were included in the "Impact Rankings" assessment criteria in 2020 (Table 1).


As Table 1 illustrates, Alzahra University ranked 30 in SDG 15, 49 in SDG 1, 65 in SFG 7, 91 in SDG 6, and 99 in SDG 14, which means that in 5 SDGs indices, the university ranked below 100 on the global scale. It should be noted that in four of these five SDGs indices (Except the sixth one), Alzahra University ranked first in Iran. Interestingly, as shown in Table 1, in five of the six goals added to the list of SDGs in 2020, Alzahra University ranked below 100 worldwide.


Table 1. Indicators of "Impact Ranking" in 2019 and 2020


Methodology of Impact Ranking in 2020:

In order for Times Higher Education to assess the institution's performance in realizing each of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each indicator was measured across three areas of research, outreach, and stewardship. First and foremost, the metrics of research are obtained from data supplied by Elsevier's Scopus scientific database. Such metrics account for 27% of the overall score in most of the indicators. Of the 27% of the scores for research, 10% is directly affected by the number of SDGs. That is, it is derived from field-weighted citations in which Alzahra University has witnessed an increase in the preceding year. The remaining 17% of research scores are accounted for by the number of papers published in collaboration with international co-authors (7%), and the number of the papers related to that specific SDG (10%). Simply put, research output by Alzahra University has played a direct role in and accounted for 27% of the Impact Ranking that is almost the same across all of the 17 SDGs.

The metrics for the remaining 73% of the scores for each SDG come from the general performance of the university. In so doing, universities will be asked to provide evidence or documentation to support their submissions that will be further validated by Times Higher Education. In the last stage, evidence is evaluated against a specific set of criteria. For instance, the measures the university has taken to eradicate poverty, its collaboration with and support for healthcare professions, the number of the graduates who work to promote SDGs or are capable of teaching, the proportion of female students accepted in undergraduate programs to all of the students, the role of students in running the university, and the sensitivity of the university to wastes management and so on.








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