Mahidol Shines Among Top 20 Globally in THE Impact Rankings, Leads in Thailand

Phil Baty, Chief Global Affairs Officer, Times Higher Education (THE)

BANGKOK —  The Times Higher Education (THE) successfully hosted the 2024 Global Sustainable Development Congress (GSDC) in Thailand. This was the third year in a row they organized this event, following the first in England and the second in Saudi Arabia.

The congress took place from June 10-13, 2024, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. It was a joint effort with Thailand’s Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation.

The congress aimed to encourage collaboration among universities to support sustainability goals. Alongside the event, THE published the 2024 “THE Impact Rankings,” which highlight universities that are actively contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These rankings assess universities in four main areas: research, university policies and practices, societal engagement at local and global levels, and teaching quality.

In 2024, 222 universities from Asia took part in the rankings. Thailand played a significant role as one of the world’s top contributors, with 77 Thai universities included in the rankings. This marked an increase from 65 universities in 2023 and 51 in 2022. The universities included public and private institutions, Rajabhat Universities, and Rajamangala Universities from various provinces.


Mahidol-Thammasat climb, Chula drop 

The 2024 THE Impact Rankings have identified Western Sydney University in Australia as the top performer globally, followed closely by the University of Manchester, the University of Tasmania, Aalborg University in Denmark, and RMIT University in Australia.

Mahidol University stands out among Thai universities, achieving a global ranking of 19th overall in the 2024 THE Impact Rankings. It excelled notably in SDG 3 – Good Health & Well-Being, ranking third globally with a score of 94.5 points.

Additionally, Mahidol University performed strongly in Gender Equality (5th globally), Industrial Innovation and Infrastructure (9th globally), and Partnership for Goals (17th globally).

In contrast, Chulalongkorn University dropped to 43rd globally from its previous rank of 17th, while Chiang Mai University slipped to 75th from 74th. However, Thammasat University showed improvement, climbing to 81st from the 101-200 range.

Mahidol University is Thailand’s highest-ranked university overall, sharing the 19th position globally. It leads among Thai universities in five SDGs: Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3), Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7), Life Below Water (SDG 14), Life on Land (SDG 15), and Partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17).

Thailand boasts two universities in the top 50 globally, four in the top 100, and nine in the top 200 in the overall category of THE Impact Rankings. With 77 universities ranked, Thailand ranks seventh globally in university representation. Thai universities are prominently featured in the top 100 across 15 out of the 17 SDGs, with significant presence in SDG 2 – Zero Hunger, SDG 4 – Quality Education, and SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals, each having five universities in the top 100.

The 2024 Global Sustainable Development Congress takes place from June 10-13, 2024, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center.

Climb the ladder

Phil Baty, Chief Global Affairs Officer at Times Higher Education (THE), outlined the pivotal factors contributing to universities’ success. He highlighted a comprehensive four-fold evaluation framework: research impact, teaching quality, university practices (stewardship) in implementing SDG-related research, and outreach initiatives fostering collaboration with society at local, regional, and global levels.

The rankings also reflect each university’s overall performance across the four frameworks. However, THE Impact Rankings go further by categorizing universities into 17 specific Goals, highlighting their unique strengths such as Gender Equality, Good Health & Well-Being reducing poverty, and Life Below Water. This approach helps showcase the diverse goals and capabilities of each university.

Therefore, when a university scores very well in one aspect but receives a bad overall score in the world rankings, it doesn’t mean that the university is not good on a global stage. For example, a university near the sea might focus on SDGs related to Life Below Water, demonstrating its specialized expertise in that area. THE Impact Rankings encompass all 17 Goals, allowing universities to emphasize their particular strengths and contributions effectively.

 “This underscores how universities can leverage their unique strengths to contribute to global rankings.”

When asked about the benefits of being ranked in the Impact Rankings for Thai universities, THE highlighted the global importance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), comparing them to the  artificial intelligence. They explain that sustainability goes beyond just industries. it also includes education. Teaching sustainability is crucial for raising awareness and knowledge among future generations.

‘THE SDGs’ cover a range of issues such as environmental protection, gender equality, justice, hunger relief, and poverty reduction—each represented among their 17 goals. Therefore, universities recognized for their achievements in any of these areas play a vital role in preparing graduates who excel across various fields and contribute significantly to global sustainability efforts.

Local Strengths to Global Challenges

Baty continued, noting the enthusiasm among Thai universities that submitted data for the rankings, reflecting a strong desire to ascend global standings—a positive development. However, he acknowledged that the proportion of universities participating in the rankings versus those achieving rankings remains relatively small compared to other nations.

Regarding the role of university size and history in evaluations, Baty said that  “THE Impact Rankings do not assess a university’s size, heritage, funding, or reputation. This ensures fairness for young & dynamic  institutions with exceptional results.”

He concludes by highlighting the unique strengths found in many Thai universities, whether they are in big cities or rural areas. He noted that while these universities excel in different areas, there’s a challenge in making local research recognized globally. This involves not just presenting research on an international scale but also making sure it’s widely shared and applied across borders—a difficult task for many Thai institutions.