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We’re on the University of the Year shortlist – and here’s why….

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Published on 09 September 2021

Deans of the faculties
Deans of the faculties

Following this week’s announcement that the University of Sunderland has been shortlisted as University of the Year, we asked our Deans why their faculties are life changing. And here’s what they said:


Professor Tony Alabaster, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, said: “This Faculty is so much more than a place to become a doctor, a scientist, a nurse, a pharmacist or a specialist in whichever field you have chosen.

“It's about becoming the person you want to be, building the career you have dreamed of and changing not only your life, but the lives of so many others.

“Every year thousands of our students go out into the world to begin putting into practice what they have learned in their time with us. Their impact is immeasurable but undeniable.

“In a world where health and wellbeing has been rocketed to the forefront of all our lives in such an unprecedented way, our team of expert academics and researchers are ready to meet the challenges ahead to ensure our students become the career-focused, society-shaping and life changing leaders of tomorrow.”


Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism, said: “Undertaking a degree programme is not just about the acquisition of knowledge. It’s also about building your CV by adding a range of skills, experiences and attributes which are developed throughout your studies. In this way you are preparing yourself for the career ahead of you.

For us ‘the classroom’ extends to; the virtual environment, with challenges including dynamic business simulations; to our many partnerships, whether studying abroad or undertaking a placement and to fieldwork and applied projects, applying learning to and learning from a range of employers, professional bodies and leaders in their respective fields.

“By taking a view of education holistically within the CV context we are making your talent shine, as a signal to your future employers.”


Professor Arabella Plouviez, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, said: “This Faculty is the home of the creatives, the story-tellers. In this faculty we see life-changing as being at the heart of what we do – changing the lives of our students as they learn the skills and build the knowledge to develop their own creative voice and tell different stories, sometimes their own and sometimes the stories of others. 

“As we start a new academic year, all our students are either at the beginning of their journey or continuing on, being exposed to new ways of thinking, new challenges and being inspired as well as gaining experience in the different roles and opportunities there are across the Creative Industries so that they can shape the life that they want to live.”

Professor John Murray, Academic Dean – Faculty of Technology, said: “The Faculty at the University of Sunderland delivers cutting edge programmes to our students, with academics who are experts in their respective fields and outstanding facilities, the environment here in the faculty is one of growth, development and support. With Game Development Labs, a Networking and Cybersecurity suite, Virtual Reality immersive environment, project labs, Industry 4.0 facilities, and an Electronics lab, you have all the facilities you need to achieve your potential. 

“With contemporary programmes in Engineering such as Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Project management, and programmes in Computer Science such as Game Development, Networks and Cybersecurity to name a few, our educational offering is one that builds on teaching real-world, applicable skills, with up-to-date concepts and technologies ensuring that our students are fully equipped and ready for employment once they graduate.

“Our supportive environment, along with our facilities and engaged academics make studying in the faculty a truly enjoyable and life changing experience.”


Professor Lynne McKenna, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, said: This Faculty maintains a strong focus on preparing our students to work in professional occupations.

This focus aligns to our ambition to provide a range of recognized qualifications for the public, private, statutory, care and voluntary sectors. Our provision is truly life changing for the students we teach and for the children, families, communities and organisations our graduates proceed to work in using their skills developed in our wide-ranging social science provision, from sociology to criminology and beyond. Students and graduates from our Childhood Studies programmes, incorporating Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies, cater for the youngest members of our society while students and graduates from our Health and Social Care provision, provide support for those vulnerable members of society.

We are immensely proud that students and graduates from our Initial Teacher Training programmes contribute to teacher supply for the region, nationally and internationally. Our partnership which has over 600 school and college partners provided 2491 placements in 2021- no mean feat in the middle of a global pandemic! In Social Work and Community and Youth Work, we work closely with 11 of the 12 regional local authorities as well as a wide range of private, voluntary and third sector organisations delivering work placements and apprenticeships.

The Faculty has a strong focus on inclusion, equality and diversity both academically and in the support and opportunities that we offer to our students and it is this approach which ensures that for students studying with us, their experience really is life changing."