University of Galway ranked #1 in Ireland for sustainability

University of Galway has been named the number one university in Ireland for sustainable development for the third year in a row.
University of Galway Quadrangle. Credit Chaosheng Zhang
University of Galway Quadrangle. Credit Chaosheng Zhang

Wednesday June 12, 2024: University of Galway has been named the number one university in Ireland for sustainable development for the third year in a row.

The accolade has been awarded by Times Higher Education Impact rankings in recognition of the University’s progress in responding to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The rankings also places University of Galway in the world’s top 50 and recognised globally for significant contribution to progress on 11 of the 17 UN SDGs. This includes a world ranking of number 10 for Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) and top 100 status for 6 of the 17 SDGs.

President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “University of Galway being ranked again this year in the top 50 among the universities of the world is a huge achievement. It is also a remarkable recognition to be embedded as the number one, the leading university in Ireland, and in the top 5 in the EU, for the work and progress we have made on our core value of sustainability.

“Huge credit goes to staff across our university for making this happen, in our teaching and learning, in our research and in our day-to-day operations. Equally, credit is due to our students who put sustainability to the forefront of our agenda as we developed our 2020-2025 strategy Shared Vision, Shaped by Values. This has happened because of the energy, passion, and enthusiasm of our empowered university community.

“Sustainability and climate action are the urgencies of this moment. At this time and from this place, University of Galway is glad to lead, for the public good.”

The 2024 edition of Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings ranks the University 47th out of 1,963 institutions across the world, and in the top 5 in the EU.

Assessments for THE Impact rankings are based on submissions from universities around the world in line with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The report is a measure of the extent to which institutions are having a positive social and economic impact on the planet; from climate action and gender equality, to good health and well-being.

Dr Richard Manton, Director of Sustainability; Molly Hickey; Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, former Deputy President and Registrar and Chair of the University Sustainability Advisory Board; Michelle O’Dowd Lohan, Community and University Sustainability Officer; Peter O’Neill; and Dr Alma Clavin, Lecturer in Sustainability and Education for Sustainable Development. Credit – Aengus McMahon

Professor Peter McHugh, Deputy President and Registrar and Chair of the University Sustainability Advisory Board, said: “A huge congratulations to the team involved in bringing the University to where we are today. Through our community and university sustainability partnership, we are co-creating a more sustainable campus and embedding sustainability in all aspects of learning and research, culture, operations and governance. We have recently established a Sustainability Office to bolster these efforts and to empower the University’s diverse communities of staff, students and partners.

“Today’s ranking follows the University’s success at the 2024 Education Awards in April, where we secured the top prize for Excellence in Sustainability. We are also very proud to be the first university to be designated a national Sustainable Development Goals Champion, recognising our leading role in achieving the SDGs. I would encourage visitors to take a walk along our SDG Trail and Biodiversity Trail to see first-hand how we have developed the campus as a living lab for the SDGs.”

Dr Richard Manton, Director of Sustainability, said: “Looking to the future, our vision is that every student graduating from University of Galway will have confronted diverse aspects of sustainability and the UN SDGs in their degrees. We will continue to enhance the biodiversity of our campus and we will move ambitiously towards carbon neutrality. As recognised in SDG 17, partnership for the goals, we will only achieve our sustainability objectives by working closely with our partners in our city and region.”

University of Galway is making significant progress on its sustainability ambitions:

  • Researchers have developed a global reputation for medtech, marine and environmental research, sustainable energy solutions, data analytics, culture, and creativity, all having an important role to play in the implementation of the SDGs.
  • Lecturers are embedding sustainability across the curriculum and the University has developed a new tracking tool to determine the SDG content of our courses.
  • University of Galway campus and buildings are testbeds for positive sustainable actions. Since 2006, the University has exceeded targets by decreasing its energy usage across campus by 50%. We have rolled out Solar PV panel across campus buildings and completed a demonstrator geothermal heat pump project to heat the swimming pool in the Sports Centre. The University’s Park and Ride system is powered by electric buses and a network of internal and external drinking water fountain have been installed campus wide.
  • University of Galway is home to the first lab in Europe to awarded Green Lab certification and all the labs in the Alice Perry Engineering Building are now certified as green.
  • Our campus is one of the most biodiverse in Ireland: we hold An Taisce Green Campus Flag. We have introduced new wildflower enhancement schemes, bird boxes, bat boxes, insect hotels, beehives, a pollinator friendly pesticide code and a log tree hive.

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