Nelson Mandela University: Societal impact ranking accolade for Mandela University

Nelson Mandela University’s growing reputation as a leading Ocean Sciences hub was recently recognised with a top place nationally in the Life Below Water category in the international 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

Mandela University also fared well in four other categories in the rankings, which assesses the global performance of institutions against the various United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

These agreed-upon SDGs measure progress in an attempt to document the evidence of universities’ impact on society, rather than just research and teaching performance. Each SDG has several targets.

The winning score of 73.3 in the Life Below Water SDG nationally and the 69th placing among 452 others internationally is testimony to the type of research, learning and teaching and engagement that is ongoing within the Ocean Sciences field.

The University has five South African Research Chairs linked to Ocean Sciences, the transdisciplinary Institute Centre for Coastal and Marine Research and the FishFORCE Academy, each of which is well respected for its research, learning and teaching and engagement efforts within South Africa and beyond.

The Chairs are:

Law of The Sea and Ocean Governance of Development in Africa
Marine Spatial Planning
Shallow Water Ecosystems
Ocean Cultures and Heritage
Ocean and Marin Food Security
Mandela University Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Internationalisation Dr Thandi Mgwebi said that while the ranking showed the institution’s strengths, they should be considered with care and context, and not be used to determine the strategy of a university.

“Our real impact is our contribution to more just, equitable and sustainable societies. These rankings seek to measure this impact in addressing local and global challenges. We are pleased with our growing impact and recognition,” said Dr Mgwebi.

The University submitted supporting data in an extensive mapping exercise for five categories within the UN’s Strategic Development Goals and achieved the following rankings:

SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing, ranked 6th nationally
SDG 13: Climate Action, ranked 2nd nationally
SDG 14: Life Below Water, ranked 1st nationally and 69th globally
SDG 15: Life on Land, ranked 2nd nationally
SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals: scored 79, ranked 4th nationally
The rankings were introduced four years ago, and Mandela University has participated twice.

The criteria for assessing the University’s research on life below water and their education support for aquatic ecosystems took into consideration academic papers in journals and publications.

It also looked at the work undertaken to education local communities, support sustainable management of fishers, aquaculture and tourism for local and national communities as well as implement outreach activities. The latter in particular focused on raising awareness around overfishing, unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices.

The University, whose values include that of sustainable stewardship, has invested in various sustainability goals in working with its students, staff, and neighbouring communities.

Such projects involve responsibly integrating its respective campuses with the social, economic and environment location and geography, that respects and enhancing the green belts, the water ways, and the ocean.

Its George Campus, in particular, is recognised as a sustainability hub for the programmes it offers along with its sustainability efforts on the ground.