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LEADING FOR SUSTAINABILITY: USM MAINTAINS #4 POSITION IN THE WORLD

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USM PENANG, 5 June 2023 – Despite more universities participating in the latest exercise, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) maintains its #4 position in the most recent Impact Rankings 2023 list.

The Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2023 results that was released last night assessed the achievements of 1,591 institutions around the world (as compared to 1,410 institutions in 2022) based on the fulfillment of activities and programmes in relation to a number of criteria for the United Nation (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

USM is now ranked first in Asia as a result and in SDG16, USM holds the top global ranking.

This demonstrates that the APEX status granted to USM has been achieved through the vision of Transforming Higher Education for a Sustainable Tomorrow and the motto, "Kami Memimpin" (We Lead). This highlighted how USM cultivated its uniqueness to stand out from other universities not only in Malaysia, but also globally.

The achievement by universities in each of the 17 SDGs will determine how they would fare in the annual rankings.

In commenting on the achievement, USM Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dato’ Ir. Dr. Abdul Rahman Mohamed said that as the sole APEX University in the country, USM understands that sustainable practices extend beyond the confines of academia and aims to inspire its students and staff to become responsible global citizens.

“By embedding sustainability principles in its teaching and research, USM empowers individuals to address complex challenges through innovative solutions and to become advocates for sustainable development in their respective fields.

“We are proud of this achievement, as it underscores Universiti Sains Malaysia's dedication to creating a sustainable future, driving positive change, and inspiring a generation of leaders who will shape a world that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet,” he said.

The three SDGs with the highest rankings for USM in 2023 are SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), and SDG 1 (No Poverty). SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) is a mandatory SDG to be evaluated along with those top three scores.

SDG 1 – Since the mission of USM is to enable the bottom billion to transform their socio-economic well-being, USM is tasked with ensuring that the most fundamental needs –such as food, health care, and education – are met. By providing B40 students with financial aid, including tuition assistance, laptop assistance, internet/data plan assistance, graduate assistance, and support for food, housing and transportation, USM plays a direct role in alleviating the impact of poverty in their communities. This assistance will increase the B40 students' desire to complete their studies and receive high-quality education, while also assisting them in eradicating intergenerational poverty.

The idea of "from staff to staff" has inspired Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) to launch a micro-seed funding project that transfers current academic staff skills to non-academic staff in order to raise the living standards of B40 workers.

On programmes relating to the community, USM was engaged by the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) to undertake a premier educational programme to empower B40 kids in addition to humanitarian missions for flood, landslide, and other disaster victims.

As custodians of important resources, USM has an obligation to assist the larger society in fighting poverty. The Industry and Community Network division (BJIM) has a number of programmes aimed at reducing poverty. Although these programmes were led by the community, they were supported by the university.

SDG 2 – Through its activities, research and programmes, USM contributes to ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. Through the distribution of food from food banks, Le’mari@Kejut, and Iftar@USM, the number of students and employees going without food and experiencing food insecurity had been reduced.

The Waqf project Le'mari@Kejut, which is being implemented at the Engineering Campus of USM, is a great way for staff and students to share food with people who are in need.

The USM Islamic Centre provided 'iftar' (breaking of fast) meals to students, staff and the local community at all 3 campuses over the whole month of Ramadan every year, feeding more than 4,000 people daily.

Another initiative worth mentioning was the DHA Milk Nutritional Aid programme for the children of USM staff who are in the B10, B20 dan B40 categories.  This programme is hoped to ease the financial burden of the B10/B20/B40 staff in providing daily sustenance of DHA milk for their children.

SDG 16 – USM works to promote inclusive and peaceful societies by ensuring that everyone has access to justice and by creating inclusive institutions at all levels. Regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual orientation, staff and students at USM feel safe and free from fear of any kind of violence as they go about their daily lives. This is due to the fact that the university's principles and pledges in curbing organised crime, bribery and corruption are upheld rigorously by USM. If there are employees implicated, USM will act as necessary without hesitation.

The recent appointment of USM HEPA Deputy Vice-Chancellor as the Department of Higher Education's Director-General demonstrates USM's strength in developing outstanding people.

In 2022, the 4th position was shared between USM and King Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia.

For the past few years, USM has increased its efforts with regard to academic, research, industry and community networking activities and institutional arrangements.

USM remains the sole university in Malaysia to be awarded the Accelerated Programme for Excellence (APEX) status by the Ministry of Higher Education then, for its continuous implementation of various programmes and activities that relate and correspond to sustainability, the bottom billion as well as the SDGs.

Text: Media and Public Relations Centre (MPRC) & Centre for Global Sustainability Studies (CGSS), USM

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