SustainaBul for sustainability: TU/e in fourth position

Wageningen University, for many years the greenest in higher education, has fallen to sixth place in the annual SustainaBul rankings. Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences once again heads the list. TU/e rose from seventh to fourth position.

photo Lieke Vermeulen

Since 2012, the idealistic student network Studenten voor Morgen (students for tomorrow) has issued what it calls the SustainaBul. It ranks universities of applied sciences and educational institutions on the basis of sustainability in teaching, research and business operations. Special initiatives in education (best practices) are considered as well.

The students do not look at the links between institutions and the fossil fuel sector, which has been the focus of climate activists in recent protest occupations. That might change next year, says Floris de Boer of Studenten voor Morgen.

So the fact that VU Amsterdam is the first university in the Netherlands to announce that it will no longer cooperate with fossil fuel companies that hamper the energy transition plays no part in the 2023 rankings.

What is new this year, however, is that the students looked at whether the higher education institutions have opted for sustainable insurance providers and banks. That criterion has been added in consultation with action group Scientists for Future.


It is the third time that Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences has topped the list. The institution, which has branches in Leeuwarden and Velp, also won in 2020 and 2022. The ‘green’ Wageningen University won gold in 2021 and has headed the rankings a total of six times. But this year the university has fallen to sixth place.

TU/e, which was in first place in 2018, is fourth this year. That means an upward trend, as last year "we" were seventh. However, the ambition is to be first again, said Erwin Kerkhof, sustainability consultant at Real Estate, last year in Cursor. An overarching vision of sustainability should help achieve this.

Best practices

To compile the rankings, the students themselves search for information about sustainability, subsequently asking the educational institutions for a reaction. They determine the definitive rankings once they have heard back from the higher education institutions.

The expert jury award for best practices went to VU Amsterdam this year for its co2assistent project, in which medical students can put forward proposals for making their study programme more sustainable. They look at topics such as how medicines and packaging materials can be reused.

Groene Peper

The students presented the award at Groene Peper, a festival devoted to education and sustainability.

The students regard sustainability not only as environmental targets and combating climate change, but also as the battle against poverty and hunger and the promotion of gender equality.

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