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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Sunderland

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Following the recent good news that the University of Sunderland has been named University of the Year for Social Inclusion (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021), we caught up with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Justine Gillespie, to discuss our commitment to in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and what that means for our students.

What is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion?

Justine explains, "Here at the University of Sunderland we believe that everybody should be treated equally and opportunities afforded to all. We also recognise that treating everyone equally has shortcomings when the playing field is not level. Where possible, we take the approach that everyone should be treated according to their needs.

"We are an international and multicultural community, which values and encourages diversity. Inclusion is what is needed to give diversity real impact, and drive towards a university where all students are empowered to thrive. Whilst diversity and inclusion often go hand in hand, inclusion is fundamentally about individual experience and allowing everyone to contribute and feel part of our community – a value at the heart of our University strategy.

"Our inclusion strategy focuses on ensuring that everyone at the University, regardless of their background, identity or circumstance, feels valued, accepted and supported to succeed. Positive change on inclusion can only come about through concerted, meaningful and intentional action."

Promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in our student body

A large group of students outside of the National Glass Centre

As equality, diversity and inclusion is intrinsic to everything we do as a University, and to every aspect of our student and staff experience, we share that work through our annual report.

We have several ways in which you can get involved and get support as a student - Justine provides the following examples:

Tackling Hate Crime

"We believe that tackling hate crime is a high priority. All students should be able to pursue their studies without fear of harassment and must feel safe and able to report incidents. Policies and procedures are in place to address all forms of harassment.

"The University of Sunderland has an online reporting tool, as well as face-to-face confidential support for students. We have also built Bystander training into induction. Bystander sessions give you the knowledge and confidence to be an active bystander on and off campus; promote the value in reporting any ‘hate’ incidents; and bring attention to the help and resources available to you from the University if you find yourself a victim of, or a bystander to, any form of interpersonal violence, harassment, bullying or hate crime."

Our student networks, clubs and societies

"The University has a wide range of networks, clubs and societies open for students to join where you can meet likeminded people."

Events and awareness days

"Our university community is made up of a diverse range of different cultures and backgrounds and we want to celebrate that as much as we can." Events and awareness days that we regularly support include:

  • Black History Month
  • Interfaith Week
  • LGBT History Month
  • International Women's Day
  • Sunderland Pride
  • University Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Week
  • World AIDS Day

Prayer Facilities

"We have been developing new and improved spaces for our students and staff. On City Campus, we have excellent prayer facilities for our Muslim students located on the ground floor of Helen McArdle House. At The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, we have our main Interfaith Chaplaincy Centre (ICC), with provision and resources for all faiths."

Disability Support Team

"The Disability Support Team (DST) provide a confidential service to students whose disability or condition has an impact on how they study and learn. Students can meet with a Disability Support Adviser to talk about their learning support requirements and discuss what can be put in place to meet their needs."

Health, Wellbeing and Support

"We have a range of free and confidential support systems for all students, such as our Wellbeing service. The service offers advice on a range of issues such as stress, anxiety and low mood, self-harming behaviours, bereavement and loss, eating issues, dependency and addiction, concerns about sexuality, issues with self-esteem and confidence and long-term mental health difficulties."

Further information

For further information about Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Responsibility (EDISR) at the University of Sunderland please see the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion section of our website.

We welcome feedback on EDISR. Get in touch with Justine or the Students’ Union LGBTQ+ Officer:


Published: 1 October 2020