• oikos St. Gallen

Positive Impact Rating 2021: University of St.Gallen

The Positive Impact Rating 2021 results were launched today at the UN PRME Global Forum, summarizing the social impact levels of 46 business schools across 21 countries. The University of St.Gallen was rated to be “PROGRESSING” in terms of its positive impact on society, based on the perception of 468 HSG business students. These results pose a valuable opportunity for critical reflection so that together, students and faculty can shape the HSG from being one of the best schools in the world to being the best for the world.


The Positive Impact Rating recognizes that the impact of business schools goes beyond their contribution to business and the economy, and allows students to rate their schools in terms of their positive impact on society. At HSG, over 10% of all business students at Bachelor and Master level assessed our university in the dimensions of Governance, Culture, Programs, Learning Methods, Student Support, Institution as a Role Model and Public Engagement.


How did the University of St.Gallen perform?


In the overall rating, the University of St.Gallen scored 6.2 out of 10 points and falls into the “progressing” level of development. The average achieved by all 46 participating schools was 7.2. In its Roadmap 2025, the HSG committed to setting global standards in research and teaching by promoting, integrative thought and responsible action, and an entrepreneurial spirit of innovation in business and society. It appears that, according to the students’ assessment, the HSG does not yet live up to this vision. The HSG thus can and should learn from other best practice examples and work with students and associations to increase its positive impact and embrace its responsibility as a leading business school.


Figure 1: Official Positive Impact Rating 20201 of the University of St.Gallen



The overall score can be broken down into the categories of Energizing, Educating and Engaging. The Energizing quality enables and energizes business schools to effectively foster positive impact, and includes the dimensions of Governance and Culture. Here, the HSG achieved its highest score at 6.7 out of 10. Furthermore, the Educating criterion refers to a core function of business school impact: preparing students to become responsible future leaders in business and society, and comprises the dimensions Programs, Learning Methods, and Student Support. Finally, the Engaging criterion refers to the need for business schools to earn the trust of students and society but also to engage as respected public citizens, and comprises the dimensions of the HSG as a Role Model and Public Engagement. Here the HSG was rated by students as 5.6 out of 10. It is clear that students particularly wish for the HSG to promote more public engagement and to act as a role model. In comparison to last year, the HSG improved in all categories, but is still lagging behind other participating schools.


Particularly insightful are the qualitative results, in which business students were asked what the University of St.Gallen should start, stop and continue doing to provide a management education that results in a positive impact for the world. Overall, students seem to be most concerned about the nature of the HSG’s curriculum, which was mentioned most frequently across the categories of start (63%), stop (36%) & continue doing (53%). In fact, it was not only at HSG, but also at Positive Impact Rating schools around the world, that students think business schools should stop teaching outdated models and should start putting sustainability at the core of their teaching. You can read the full 2021 Report here


Figure 2: Analysis by oikos St.Gallen showing the 3 most common student responses (%) to the question ”What is the most important thing your school should start / continue / stop doing in support of its commitment to providing management education that results in positive impact for the world?”


Why does this matter?


The demand on businesses to have a positive impact for society has been increasing steadily over the past decade. In the business school domain, specialized organizations like the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and international accreditations have revised their standards to address the call for social impact. Global accreditation standards for business schools now demand a full integration of ethics, responsibility, and sustainability (EQUIS) or societal impact (AACSB) into all core elements of their standards. This certainly creates pressure for business schools to rethink their positions and contributions to social impact and sustainability.


The HSG has made a range of commitments in terms of its positive impact. For example, it is a signatory of the Principles of Responsible Management Education, a UN initiative that aims to raise the profile of sustainability in schools around the world. Furthermore, its Roadmap 2025 aims at “promoting integrative thought and responsible action” and sustainability is one of the 7 Principles of its newly published Code of Conduct. In this spirit, the Positive Impact Rating serves not only as a rating tool but also as a tool for school development. It should be used by HSG’s leadership and students alike to define actions and strategies to increase the positive impact of our university!


The Positive Impact Rating summarizes the opinion of 468 business students - this is a huge opportunity! We hope that the student voice behind it will be heard, and the desired changes considered by the HSG. Over the past two years, the oikos Change on Campus Project has worked hard to bring about meaningful integration of sustainability into our curriculum and university lifestyle. Since the student demand for change now has become very plainly visible through the Positive Impact Rating, we hope for a fruitful collaboration with the university to swiftly make the desired changes. By embracing this constructive criticism the university can ensure, on the one hand, that it makes its fair contribution to a sustainable future and, on the other, that it does not lose its relevance in the wider business school landscape. Whether as HSG faculty, association, or student, your actions and ideas can and should contribute to this!


What's next?


Therefore, oikos St.Gallen warmly invites you to listen in and contribute your thoughts on the topic of positive impact at HSG in a workshop “Let's Talk Impact!” in September 2021 (exact date TBD). We aim to provide a space for discussion and ideas that can contribute to the mission of making the HSG not only one of the best schools in the world but also for the world. Register your interest here so that we can invite you to the discussion.


The time when sustainability was a nice-to-have at higher educational institutions is long gone. The University of St. Gallen must live up to its global role as a role model and key influencer of the careers and lives of future business leaders!



Don’t hesitate to contact president@stgallen.oikos-international.org with any questions, comments, or feedback for us, or for the HSG! We would love to hear from you.


Thank you to our partners for your continued engagement that made this all possible:




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