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Making an impact

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Published on 4, January, 2017

The University of Sunderland is proud of its tangible impact, which is the result of passionate, research-active academics, world leading research and close partnerships with businesses - from multi-nationals to SMEs.  

Sunderland believes that universities have a role to play in a fair and democratic society, and it measures success not just by league tables, but also by the wide contribution it makes to society.

Widening participation

Students are placed at the heart of everything the University does and its widening participation record is testimony to its long-running work to raise aspirations and promote social inclusion within the North East region. According to the Times Good University Guide Sunderland is the UK's most inclusive university.

Career ready graduates

Graduates are career ready when they leave Sunderland, thanks to an approach that supports undergraduates throughout their studies and develops the knowledge, high-level skills and behaviours that employers are looking for. 


Teaching is greatly enriched and informed by the quality of the University’s research. The University submitted 13 academic areas to the Research Excellence Framework in 2014, all of which were classified as ‘internationally excellent’. Ten of these areas were also rated as ‘world leading’.

Economic impact

An independent economic impact assessment indicated that the University delivers a 20:1 return on investment for every £1 of public investment received, generates over £560m Gross Value Added for the UK economy and supports 7,500 jobs.

Global institution

The University has campuses in London and Hong Kong and is also internationally connected, with educational partners in 14 countries. Almost a third of its students study for a Sunderland degree off-campus in their own country and the University is regarded as a pioneer in transnational education. The University of Sunderland is proud to welcome students from over 100 countries around the world, who create a fantastically diverse student population.

Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025: We are a life-changing university. Our ambitions guide what we do.

The University has set out its ambitions and how it plans to develop over the next five-year period in its Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025.

The Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 sets out a clear statement of intent that builds on the University of Sunderland's strengths – and is ambitious and relevant for a 21st Century global University.


The University has five Faculties:

Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism

Academic Dean: Professor Lawrence Bellamy

  • Sunderland Business School
  • Sunderland Law School

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing

Academic Dean: Professor Tony Alabaster

  • School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science
  • School of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • School of Psychology

Faculty of Education and Society

Academic Dean: Dr Lynne McKenna

  • School of Education
  • School of Culture
  • School of Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries

Academic Dean: Professor Arabella Plouviez

  • School of Art and Design
  • School of Media and Communications

Faculty of Technology

Academic Dean: Professor Alastair Irons

  • School of Engineering
  • School of Computer Science
  • Institute for Automotive & Manufacturing Advanced Practice (AMAP)



Executive team

  • Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive: Sir David Bell
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic): Professor Michael Young
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Commercial): Professor Jon Timmis
  • Chief Operating Officer: Steve Knight
  • University Secretary: Andrea Walters


Supported by:

  • Pro Vice-Chancellor – International: Professor John MacIntyre
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor – Education and Student Experience: Dr Rob Trimble
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor – Place and Connections: Graeme Thompson


Background and history

The University of Sunderland’s modern roots lie with Sunderland Technical College which opened in 1901 to develop high-quality vocational programmes to support the regional skills needs for the 20th Century.

Pharmacy, a flagship area for the University was introduced in 1921, and in 1934 Sunderland Technical College was recognised for its exemplary Bachelor of Engineering programme, the first in the country to offer placements as an integral part of the curriculum.

By 1959 ambitious plans for expansion were underway and in 1969 The Technical College, The School of Art, and Sunderland Teacher Training College were brought together and became Sunderland Polytechnic. In 1992 the Polytechnic was awarded university status and became the University of Sunderland.

Today the University operates from two campuses in Sunderland, one in London and another in Hong Kong.

In Sunderland its City Campus has been transformed over the last five years, thanks to a £75m capital investment programme. This includes CitySpace, a sports and social facility; refurbishment of Priestman Building, providing excellent facilities for Fine Arts and Culture, and a new Sciences Complex supporting areas such as Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Science and Sports Sciences. Phase II of the Sciences Complex - completed in 2016 - included the first ‘Living Lab’ facility in the UK and the new Sunderland School of Nursing. Developed in collaboration with health partners (NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust) the Living Lab is equipped with the most advanced healthcare equipment and the new facilities will help to develop the skills to meet future health and wellbeing challenges across the UK.

The award-winning Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, on the banks of the River Wear, is adjacent to St Peter’s Church - a seat of learning since 674AD. The campus has seen a £2.2m refurbishment of National Glass Centre, a national visitor attraction and home to the University’s Glass and Ceramic programmes.

At the University of Sunderland in London over £4m has been invested to ensure students have an excellent experience. This expansion in the UK follows several years of sustained growth in international markets. The University is acknowledged as one of the UK’s top providers of Transnational Education with over 6,000 students studying for University of Sunderland academic awards with quality-assured partners in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Trinidad, Uzbekistan, and Tashkent.

In 2016 the University made a significant step towards realising its longer term development ambitions for the South East Asia region when it acquired a campus in Hong Kong in the heart of one of the world’s most exciting cities – after having a regional presence there for almost 16 years.

The University is also a lead partner in the development of a University Technical College (UTC) in South Durham along with Hitachi Rail Europe and Gestamp Tallent which opened in September 2016, and is the University partner in the Northern Futures UTC in Newcastle.

Meanwhile capital investments in Sunderland include the Hope Street Exchange, a centre for enterprise and innovation that will provide a front door to the University for employers and investors as well as becoming a catalyst for building an entrepreneurial culture amongst university staff and students. The Centre will ultimately be the home for the University’s FabLab, the first in the region which provides access to equipment, support and advice for the prototyping and design of new products.

The Sciences Complex Phase 2 development was completed in July 2016. The Centre provides the latest health and science provision, including the Living Lab, a unique, purpose-built, environment using advanced hi-fidelity simulation equipment to deliver integrated working between university researchers, staff, students and healthcare and life sciences partners. Here they can test, monitor and collaborate in new technologies, treatments and services in real world settings, raising the quality of care and improving patient safety.