Aspiration, opportunity and inclusion
Aspiration, opportunity and inclusion

Building social capital at the University of Sunderland

10 May 2019

The University of Sunderland is proud to be one of the highest performing institutions in terms of attracting students from underrepresented groups. Almost 90% of its student community can be classed as widening participation students. The University of Sunderland is recognised for its long-standing public commitment to social mobility and it is regarded as a pioneer in terms of supporting care leavers and students estranged from their families as well as receiving many accolades for its work in widening access.

Its experience over many years in working with schools, colleges and community groups to raise aspirations and attainment means the University of Sunderland performs better than other similar institutions in attracting both young and mature students from neighbourhoods where low numbers of students go on to higher education.

The University has an exceptional record in providing outreach activity to raise attainment levels in schools and colleges with a comprehensive and innovative portfolio of access activities. The University works collaboratively as part of The North East Collaborative Outreach Programme (NECOP) consortia and the North East Raising Aspirations Partnership. It continues to deliver a comprehensive range of activities and interventions to raise aspirations in students from hard to reach groups. It will continue to target - in particular - young white males from low-participation neighbourhoods. Having recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, the University will support the aspirations of students from military families, and continue its exemplary work with Care Leavers and students estranged from their families.

Meanwhile its approach to attracting applications for the new Sunderland School of Medicine, opening September 2019, is potentially a game-changer and will enable bright, high achieving students from non-traditional background to fulfil their potential and train to be a doctor.

With its track-record of excellence in medical education spanning almost 100 years the University of Sunderland is well-placed to address the north east’s chronic shortage of doctors. Sunderland School of Medicine will complement existing medical provision in the region and add to the diversity of medical schools in the UK.

Student doctors will learn in existing Health Sciences teaching and learning spaces, benefiting from outstanding facilities, real-life settings and the latest simulation equipment.

The north east has the lowest level of applicants for medicine at only 4%, and a high proportion of the region’s schools have never had a student apply to a medical school. The University of Sunderland is using its record for widening participation to increase access to medicine among high-achieving students who may not otherwise have considered becoming a doctor - ensuring the profession reflects the population it serves.

The University is committed to building social capital and confidence in its students through exemplary tailored support for each individual. Access to career-ready programmes, relevant work experience, strong links with business and the promotion of international opportunities through student exchange all contribute to the Sunderland life-changing experience.