"I was a pupil at St Robert of Newminster sixth form when I applied to what was then the Polytechnic. That was in 1989.
“I applied to do a HND in Business Studies at the poly but then ended up going on to do my BA in Accountancy and Business.
“To be honest it was all a great experience, I got to meet so many new people from so many different types of backgrounds.
“Sunderland is a unique environment because it is focused towards ‘real life’, it wants you to get a job at the end of the three years, and that was something I really needed.
“When I graduated in 1993, I went straight into a job as an accountant, which was incredible. I went on to work for a number of companies and am now a finance director.
“Back when I applied, there were a lot of changes happening, not just at the University, but in Sunderland in general. The city was changing, the University was building its new St Peter’s campus – there were a lot of big leaps forward.
“I now have a teenage daughter and I will be encouraging her to go to university, there’s still a lot of value in it.