QS CEO announces Future 17 sustainability consortia project

Nunzio Quacquarelli told The PIE that Future 17, a new project that is a direct response to their “employer surveys”, would go live in 2022.

The consortia of universities has been put together to “engage with employer projects” that are focused on Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.


“QS made the decision in 2020 to really build up our focus on sustainability,” said Nunzio Quacquarelli, CEO of QS, who acknowledged that Cop26 was “very timely”.

“Students will work on those [employer] projects for credit, so actually, they’re getting a real life experience on a sustainability project and get academic credit for it,” he added.

The consortia, which will be led by the University of Exeter, will include Chinese University Hong Kong, South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, São Paulo University, Duke University and IE University in Spain.

More universities will be “added over time”.

The first project will begin in 2022, and QS is “engaged with employers like Amazon and Adobe and the UN” among other organisations, who are supporting the consortia.

This initial trial will only be open to 240 students, to “make sure the project works through effectiveness” and to make it “manageable” before opening it up to more people.

“There’s no reason to limit it once we’ve got the processes working,” said Quacquarelli.

The project will also work in tandem with the charity set up by QS called QS World Merit, which has the purpose to “mobilise and support young global citizens who will make a real impact on the UN sustainable develop goals”.

“Future 17 will build on the general effectiveness that has been found with doing ‘virtual internships and projects’.”

The charity, which will support the students, will help feed projects from corporations into consortia, it is understood.

These student groups involved in the projects will be “multidisciplinary” and “multi-institutional”, and will have an academic lead from one of the universities.

“The commitment to sustainability and SDGs is something that we’re building across everything we do now,” declared Quacquarelli.

Future 17 will build on the general effectiveness that has been found with doing “virtual internships and projects”.

Quacquarelli said that the SDG metrics will go into various frameworks a the company, and QS wants to focus on the “metrics that matter”.

“We don’t want to just sort of have a checkbox… we want to be really quite challenging to show real change.”

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