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Ulster University is the highest-ranking UK university for outreach.

This follows an announcement that Ulster University has been recognised as joint fifth in the world for university outreach activities, according to the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024.

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings evaluate universities globally for their contributions towards creating a more sustainable world, particularly their efforts to excel across United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from outreach work influencing local and global communities, to leading by example and running their own organisations as sustainably as possible.

Top universities for outreach



Outreach score

Afe Babalola University



University of Minnesota

United States


Arizona State University (Tempe)

United States


Walailak University



KIIT University



Ulster University

United Kingdom


University of Exeter

United Kingdom


University of Manchester

United Kingdom


Chinese University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong


University of Auckland

New Zealand


Universities are ranked according to how they contribute to the SDGs under four themes: research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship highlighting which universities are excelling in these areas. Overall, Ulster ranks in the top 11%.

Additionally, in the category related to Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals, Ulster has ranked joint 20th, with a relative position in the Top 1%.

This is a significant achievement. Ulster University’s joint fifth position for outreach is recognition for its extensive, ongoing outreach activities, and follows the Heist Gold Award in 2023 for Best Community Outreach in the UK. The University delivers a variety of initiatives, such as sports programmes promoting physical activity among underprivileged groups and schemes supporting disadvantaged young men, at-risk youths, and individuals with mild to moderate intellectual or physical disabilities.

Projects include the ‘Discovery Academy’ initiative which offers an extensive range of free online, subject specific courses and programmes for young people in the Key Stage 3-5 age groups, and the Architects of Change’ programme during phase 1 of which, the University worked in partnership with Belfast City Council providing free training to the community on green skills.

Professor Ian Montgomery, Ulster University’s Dean of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility said:

“These rankings reflect, within an international context, the significant part that Ulster University plays in the heart of Northern Ireland’s knowledge and skills ecosystem.  Our consistent outreach and delivery play a crucial role in the economic growth of the region.  By helping to transform lives we are also ensuring that the most societally disadvantaged have the same opportunities to contribute, progress and thrive, as economically and culturally active members of society.”

Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice Chancellor at Ulster University highlighted Ulster University’s commitment to sustainability, a key pillar within the People, Place at Partnership strategy, he said:

“I would like to acknowledge and thank all my colleagues for their contribution and the important role that everyone has played to achieve this outstanding recognition. 

“We are thrilled to be recognised for our commitment to delivering sustainable futures.Sustainability plays a critical role in everything we do as custodians of the future. We aim to contribute meaningfully towards a sustainable planet, sustainable local regions, sustainable academic disciplines, and this recognition reflects our commitment to this across all of our campuses.”

Find out more 

You can learn more about Sustainability at Ulster University at