Uni sustainability

Uni sustainability ranking: These are the Russell Group unis destroying the planet the most

One Russell Group is 211th in the world for sustainability


Young people and university students have shown time and time again that the environment is one of the most important issues to take into account when making decisions like who to vote for. But does it also have an impact on which university you decide to go to?

There’s always a lot of noise about universities and the environment, including debates over whether uni catering should go completely plant-based and whether the university should be completely divested from fossil fuel companies. But are there some unis, specifically Russell Group unis, that care about the environment more than others?

Well the QS World University Rankings 2025, as well as telling us the very best universities you can go to across the planet, also looked at 1,500 universities and measured their sustainability, to work out which unis are saving the planet, and which universities are helping to kill it. The sustainability ranking measures factors like the university’s own environmental sustainability as well as its research on the environment and also teaching on the environment.

The 24 Russell Group universities range from third overall in the sustainability ranking, making them the most environmentally friendly in the world, all the way down to 211th overall. The worst Russell Group in this position is actually the University of Leeds, which, at 211th overall has a sustainability score of 71.8 out of 100. This is followed by UCL at 189th with a score of 74.8 and then Cambridge and Oxford at 127th and 126th respectively.

But the Russell Group uni that is doing the least damage to the environment is the University of Manchester, which is the third best uni in the world for sustainability with a near-perfect score of 99.8 overall.

So these are the worst Russell Group universities for sustainability in 2024:

30. University of Exeter – 97.1

33. University of Nottingham – 97

34. University of Southampton – 96.9

35. University of Birmingham – 96.8

44. King’s College London – 96.2

46. Cardiff University – 96

50. University of Liverpool – 95.6

54. Queen Mary University of London – 95.6

85. London School of Economics – 91.3

98. University of Warwick – 89.7

103. Queen’s University Belfast – 88.9

126. University of Oxford – 85

127. University of Cambridge – 84.8

189. University College London – 74.8

211. University of Leeds – 71.8

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Featured image before edits via Canva.