Sunderland on the shortlist for 'University of the Year'
Released: Wednesday 17th October 2012 at 12:30
THE University of Sunderland has been shortlisted in two categories in the Times Higher Education Awards – the sector's most respected national awards.
Sunderland has been announced as one of only six institutions in the UK to be shortlisted for the University of the Year, as well as for the Outstanding Employer Engagement category.
Now in their eighth year, the Times Higher Education Awards are a highlight of the academic calendar and a celebration of the best in UK higher education.
Professor Peter Fidler, University of Sunderland Vice Chancellor, says the nomination is a ringing endorsement of the work everyone has put in over the past year.
“To win the University of the Year would be extremely special”, said Professor Fidler. “To be shortlisted is in itself a tremendous achievement, of which we should be proud.
“The Times Higher announcement is recognition of delivery against our vision – to be recognised as one of a new generation of great civic universities – innovative, accessible, inspirational and outward looking; with international reach and remarkable local impact.”
He added: “We are committed to supporting our city and region, educationally, socially, culturally and economically.”
Recognition from the Times Higher is for the University of Sunderland’s contribution to the city and the region’s economy over the past 18 months, which has received widespread praise.
Support for business and industry has been particularly significant. One example is Nissan, for whom the University delivered in terms of its workforce needs, productivity and R&D, which has helped the Sunderland car plant make a step change in its business processes.
The University’s employer engagement has also had a wider impact in the region.
In 2008/09 the University received £1.4m from the Economic Challenge Investment Fund to support business in what was a tough economic climate. The University established an internship programme, sending out 120 interns to support organisations. They had a significant impact, with one student saving an SME £250,000 per year. Around 80% of the interns have been retained by their host employer. The success of this programme has led to the University establishing an Intern Factory, where businesses can call upon a pool of resources.
The University’s importance to the city was made very clear when the City Council launched its Economic Masterplan, which placed the University “at the heart of the city’s economic development”. The City Council has identified delivery in new industries, such as low carbon, automotive and software as key to its future economic prosperity. This is due to the University being a leader in these fields.
The University play a critical role on the City’s Economic Leadership Board: chairing the City’s International Strategy Board, with a lead role in the City’s Strategic Partnership Board and as a core member of Sunderland’s Business Group. The University has developed a close relationship with Nissan UK and are their ‘University Partner of Choice’.
The region’s Software City project was a concept crafted and shaped by the University, and in 2012 Sunderland Software City is reaching all its targets on new software enterprise creation.
The recent launch of the University of Sunderland’s new Intern Factory is the next step in the University’s ambitious programme to support the new and evolving economy of Sunderland and the wider region.
The other UK institutions shortlisted for University of the Year are: Brunel University, University of Strathclyde, University of Nottingham, University of Exeter and Plymouth University.