Double first as son follows in his dad’s university footsteps

Arran Comer and his dad Neil

Published on 28 August 2019

Student teacher Neil Coram witnessed a first when he was at Sunderland in 1992 – the polytechnic changing into the city’s first University.

Fast-forward 27 years.

Neil’s son Arran is now preparing for his own university first – becoming one of the initial students on Sunderland’s new Physiotherapy degree due to start next month.

The father and son arrived at the University today as one relived halcyon days, while the other prepared for a new chapter in his life.

Neil, 50, of Gateshead, said: “So much has changed since I was here as a student, so to have Arran coming here in September is as exciting for me as it is for him.

“I loved every minute of my time here at Sunderland and I’ve gone on to have an exciting and varied career.

“When I arrived in 1988, plans were already underway for the polytechnic to be turned into a university. So when I left in 1992, I was among the first cohort of students to graduate from the newly created University of Sunderland.”

Neil, who studied to become a teacher, went on to work in East Berlin, as well as in the UK, before starting his own teaching recruitment business.

Now the proud dad is looking forward to seeing son Arran join the first cohort of physiotherapy students at the University.

Arran, 20, said: “Dad has told me a lot about his time at Sunderland so I’m excited to be getting started in September.

“I became interested in physiotherapy after talking to an elderly neighbour who felt a bit let down by the NHS after he’d undergone a hip replacement. I started thinking about how I would like to help him and other people in his situation.

“That was when I started to research the possibility of doing a physiotherapy degree. I actually contacted Gateshead College and they told me about the new course Sunderland was starting.”

Arran will start his new programme, which lasts three years, on September 16.

Neil added: “When I was here, I studied at Langham Tower in Ashbrooke, I worked in the Students’ Union bar and had some of the best times. Now, I’m looking forward to Arran getting his own Sunderland experience.”

The University’s new BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy degree programme is part of a multi-million pound investment supporting a suite of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, sport, exercise and rehabilitation laboratories on campus.

The BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy programme has been approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and is awaiting accreditation by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP). The programme will welcome the first intake of students in September 2019.