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Aligning higher education with the United Nations SDGs

  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals with 169 targets that all 193 UN member states have agreed to achieve by 2030.

  • The SDGs aim to end poverty, improve education and healthcare, reduce inequality, and promote economic growth.


  • The SDGs Report 2023 highlights slow progress and challenges due to COVID-19, the climate crisis, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and a weak global economy.

  • India has faced setbacks in achieving the SDGs despite managing the global crises and overcoming pandemic challenges.

  • India has shown commitment towards achieving the SDGs through recent actions and policies.

  • SDG4, which focuses on access to quality education, is a priority for India.

  • The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 aligns with the SDGs and emphasizes changes in higher education to promote social mobility, creativity, critical thinking, and employment skills.

  • People with higher education degrees are more employable and earn 54% more than those with only senior secondary education.

  • University education helps protect against poverty, prevent hunger, support good health and well-being, promote gender equality, provide decent work, drive economic growth, and reduce inequalities.

  • Strengthening the research-teaching nexus in university education allows students to benefit directly from research knowledge.

  • Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education produces individuals who can pursue research and find innovative solutions to global challenges.

  • Sustainable development requires a radical change in production and consumption patterns.

  • Collaboration with private companies is necessary for developing innovative solutions and start-ups.

  • Introducing Value-Based Education (VBE) can help citizens become responsible towards themselves, society, and the planet.

  • NEP 2020 demands that Indian higher education align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • Ranking universities based on SDG achievement is a positive step, but more needs to be done to meet the SDG deadline.

  • Stakeholders of higher education should be educated and oriented to ensure that their activities align with the 2030 agenda and do not leave any Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) behind.

  • The 56,205 higher educational institutions and universities in India should collaborate and work together towards achieving the SDGs.

  • Universities should actively participate in the education, innovation, culture, and civic life of their local communities.

  • Universities should focus on community health, energy-saving measures, efficient resource allocation, waste reduction, development of local skills, and sharing services and infrastructure with other universities or external partners.

  • Sustainability should be adopted as a mantra by universities and SDGs should be incorporated into their institutional strategies, both in daily administration and in teaching and research.

  • Higher education should be directly integrated with socio-economic development, with each activity and transaction having meaningful and multiple impacts on SDGs.

  • Universities should contribute directly to the well-being and nation-building of every citizen.


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