The UB holds the 21st position in the new QS ranking on sustainability , which assesses around 700 universities worldwide. The QS ranking on sustainability is getting published this year for the first time. From this perspective, its results are subject to methodological improvements in future editions, regarding data collection, representativeness of the sample and ecological validity. Thus, the variations that might come out in future editions can be considerable. However, and independently from the fluctuations that might arise in future editions due to the methodological changes the ranking might apply, the results gather the University of Barcelona’s firm support in the field of sustainability and social responsibility, as well as the UB leadership within its university environment.
The UB, listed as the Spanish leading institution in this first edition, is above the global average in the two categories of the ranking: environmental impact and social impact. Each of these categories measures different performance lenses or dimensions. The UB reaches an especially good score in the dimensions of sustainable institution, equality, the impact of education, and quality of life.
The ranking has been carried out using the information provided by the universities, own data from QS, Elsevier, and organisms such as UNESCO and the World Bank. The UB has provided data, for instance, on the percentage of first-generation students, the number of women in the governing bodies, the use of energy and water, CO2 emissions, documents and publications linked to sustainability and the environment, as well as publications on the UB policies towards ethics and governance, among others.
The vice-rector for Equal Opportunities and Gender, Montserrat Puig, states: "It is a new indicator which shows us the way. We know that day by day, the concept of sustainability will become more basic for society and the universities will not be isolated from this". Regarding the results of the UB, she says: "This position is great news, but there is a lot of work to do, we have a sustainability committee, with different specific committees, and the implementation of a route map on sustainability, this has to reinforce these actions". "Many UB units are working to get as much as they can for each established goal. We also need an individual change of awareness and the incorporation of sustainability into daily activities", she continues. "Let’s not forget this is the first time the ranking gets published and there will be adjustments; we are aware that during the first years it will be a fluctuant scale but like we said, this is the way. The importance these types of scales will get makes it necessary for the administrations to support the public universities regarding sustainability and therefore we need to think about more investment in this field".
The new ranking responds to the principle that universities play a unique role to lead the world and accelerate the rhythm of the environmental and social changes. Through research, teaching, and community participation, the universities have the experience and opportunity to promote sustainable development. The ranking’s category of environmental impact assesses the impact that universities, as big organizations, have on their closest environment, as well as the influence they have on environmental policies both nationally and internationally through teaching and research and how, through innovation and transfer, they promote an environmentally sustainable world. Regarding the social impact category, it assesses the role of universities as institutions in and for the community, as well as their proactive commitment to social justice problems.