Published on 28 June 2023
In June, the University of Sunderland welcomed representatives from schools and colleges across the north-east to its inaugural Teachers and Advisers Conference.
Held at the University's riverside Sir Tom Cowie campus, the event saw guests enjoy a welcome breakfast, followed by enthusing talks from UCAS Director Dave Penney and Andrew Hargreaves, Business Development Director at dataHE.
They spoke about the challenges facing the higher education sector, current trends and upcoming changes to the UCAS application system, including a new approach to personal statements.
Andrew Hargreaves from dataHE shared some fascinating insights to help shape the support and guidance provided by the University's school and college professionals. His talk gave a real insight into the changing landscape of higher education, with several delegates saying his talk was the highlight of the event and gave some interesting points of discussion for students.
Lunchtime gave delegates the chance to network with other teachers and advisers as well as academics and staff from the University to demystify any questions they had around the application process and the offerings from the different faculties. It proved successful as almost 60% of delegates said they would be in contact with someone they met through the networking lunch.
The afternoon saw a talk from Leo Pearlman, Managing Partner at Fulwell 73 Ltd who shared his plans to open a film studio in the city to create thousands of employment opportunities. Drawing on his own regional pride and heritage, he shared his desire for those from the north-east to be ambitious and aim for careers in the creative industries. He hopes to contribute towards that with work experience and employment opportunities in the region.
Delegates had the chance to select two breakout sessions, covering topics from student engagement and wellbeing to the applicant journey. For the second breakout session individuals had to select a faculty to tour. Academics showed delegates the facilities, and talked them through their offerings, with interactive opportunities throughout.
These breakout sessions proved successful with several delegates commenting on how impressed they were with the level of student support offered:
“The biggest take-away for me was just how nurturing an environment Sunderland is and how individual students are catered for. It became apparent from the breakout sessions how much the academic staff care about supporting students to achieve. The idea of lecturers being facilitators and colleagues in learning was very apparent."
All were impressed with the faculty tours, with 100% saying they would recommend the faculty to their students.
Work-placed learning opportunities were also popular, with many delegates highlighting that as a stand-out in our offering with one delegate commenting:
“I was very impressed by the degree of work-related learning, with lots of collaboration with industry in the delivery of courses, something which is particularly important in the current labour market landscape.”
Professor Jon Timmis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Commercial) at the University of Sunderland, said: “The positive feedback is testament to the hard work of our student recruitment team, academics and student ambassadors. We are proud to be a university that raises aspirations and widens participation, making education accessible for all. The Teacher and Adviser Conference helps schools know best how to advise their students on applying for university and what to expect. It’s great to see such a successful event and I look forward to the next one.”