The AboutUS space is using the Blog Mode!
View this blog in blog mode
Crash course

Student paramedics worked alongside operational firefighters in a joint exercise aimed at saving the lives of those involved in serious vehicle collisions.

Trainee paramedics from the University joined members of the Green Watch crew, from Sunderland Central Fire Station, for the live simulation exercise.

The two emergency services worked together to extricate a patient following a mock road traffic accident in a bid to learn more about how each other works.

Return to AboutUS

Such training is important to the student paramedics to ensure they are fully ready for real life emergencies.

Mark WillisProgramme Leader for Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care at the University, said: “Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is always at the cutting edge of training and this is an opportunity for them to impart their knowledge to our students.

“The crews carry out the extrication while the paramedics work alongside them to provide the patient care.”

This week’s exercise with the fire service is the first of three which the paramedics will be involved in.

It is this close working relationship which ensures patients involved in serious road traffic collisions receive the best care possible.

Don McAneny, Watch Manager at Sunderland Central Fire Station, said: “We spent about 45 minutes with the students before the exercise explaining the process we go through when it comes to road traffic collisions.

“During the exercise itself, some of the trainee paramedics were able to sit in the vehicle, talking to the casualty and seeing how we go about carrying out an extrication.”

The student paramedics also got the chance to see how the fire service secures the scene of a serious RTC, as well as the process of safely removing the patient into the care of the students.

Watch Manager McAneny added: “It can often be a noisy and dangerous situation that we have to secure.

“It’s important we have a strong and successful working relationship with the paramedics at the scene to help ensure the best outcomes.”


PhD announcements

The following student has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy:

Ikenna Egwu

"Making Sense: An Investigation of the Sensemaking Process and the Influence of Individual Difference Factors on Sensemaking Performance with Computer-Based Tools."

Return to AboutUS

Helen McArdle CBE is to donate £2.5m to the University of Sunderland - the largest contribution ever received by the higher education institution.

The multi-million pound partnership with the philanthropist and entrepreneur will benefit teaching and research in nursing and care. Through scholarships and student prizes, Helen’s donation will also support and celebrate trainee nurses at the Sunderland School of Nursing.

The University’s Shackleton House building has been re-named Helen McArdle House in recognition of this extraordinary gift. After a multimillion-pound transformation in 2017/18, the former 1990s office building is now used by the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing. Healthcare professionals of the future – including nurses, psychologists, paramedics, and soon, doctors – have access to as close to a real-life experience as possible, within the safety of a training environment.

Return to AboutUS

Helen McArdle House hosts a state-of-the-art patient transfer suite enabling nurses, paramedics, medical staff, health professionals and ‘Patient, Carer and Public Involvement’ (PCPI) participants to practice communication, hand-over and clinical skills in a real-life care environment. Also in the building are two mock hospital wards, assessment suites, an infection control isolation room and a mental health and wellbeing suite, which includes a mock mental health and wellbeing ward and a wellbeing simulation observation suite.

Helen McArdle CBE, who formally launched her eponymous Nursing and Care Research Institute at Helen McArdle House, commented: “My whole life has been dedicated to making a difference, both in my care homes and nurseries.

“I am very impressed by the University of Sunderland’s ambition and its commitment to improving patient care. I know that my donation will make a difference and so I am delighted to be able to help the University further develop its plans for teaching and research. I will be keeping in regular touch with the team at the University and look forward to seeing some excellent progress and results.” 

“I knew instantly after meeting the team here that we could work together, to encourage more people into this vital profession. I am very proud to be standing here today, working with David and his team.

"As I have said before, I have been lucky enough to surround myself with the best people and I believe that, in supporting this venture, I have again surrounded myself with the best. And hopefully, through the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, other people will be lucky enough to have some of the best nurses on their side too.”

Sir David Bell, the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive commented: “We are hugely indebted and grateful to Helen McArdle for her support Helen’s donation is a game-changer for us and, potentially, life-changing for patients. Helen’s values chime with ours as we seek to improve patient care in our region and beyond.

“Helen’s donation will allow us to establish PhD research studentships as well as scholarships and prizes to support and celebrate our student nurses. We are also very excited to be creating The Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute. This unique facility in our region will help us drive forward research focused on achieving excellence in nursing and patient care.”

Helen McArdle CBE established her care home business in the 1980s. When she sold the business in 2017, Helen McArdle Care had 20 care homes and was the highest quality care provider in the UK, with four ‘Outstanding’ Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings. In 2015, Helen was awarded a CBE for her services to the care home industry and the local community, receiving the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Social Care’ award at the Great North East Care Awards in 2016.

Himanshu Kalla, President: Education at Sunderland Students’ Union said: “We are delighted to learn about the generous donation to the University’s Nursing department by Helen McArdle. This funding will open up opportunities for students to learn in exceptional industry standard facilities as well as creating new opportunities for students to benefit from brand new scholarships and bursaries.

“We hope that this will enhance Sunderland’s already excellent reputation for Nursing courses and are very excited about the future research opportunities that this donation will make possible.”

Improving patient care

As a result of Helen McArdle CBE’s support, the University will establish the Helen McArdle PhD Studentship and The Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute.

Focusing on inter-professional research across nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals (NMAHP), The Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute will be based in Helen McArdle House and focus on relevant, high-quality research that will directly improve patient care.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Young, commented: “It is our intention that The Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute will become a national hub for impactful research into patient care. We will achieve this through collaboration with academic and clinical colleagues across higher education and the National Health Service.”

Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, Professor Tony Alabaster, said: “The Institute’s high-quality research will directly improve patient care by focusing on inter-professional research across nursing, midwifery, allied health professionals and other direct care staff. Our research will employ a variety of methodologies to explore solutions to challenges and opportunities in patient care.”

Sue Brent, Head of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, added: “We are particularly pleased to be able to recruit into the Helen McArdle PhD Studentships. Attached to the research institute, these full-time research students will benefit society by focusing on new knowledge and ideas that will improve nursing and patient care.”   

Supporting student nurses

The Helen McArdle Nursing Scholarship programme will provide financial support to five student nurses each year, who will have the chance to access scholarships through a £1.5m permanent endowment.

The Scholarships are open to students most in need of financial support on the BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing Practice, BSc (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing Practice and BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing Practice programmes. Students can apply for the scholarship at the point of application and, if successful, will receive a £1,200 bursary to support their living costs for each of their three years of study.

In addition to the scholarships, the £150 Helen McArdle Nursing Prize will be presented at the University’s summer and winter academic awards ceremonies. The recipient will be the most outstanding nursing student, as chosen by the McArdle family in collaboration with staff in the Sunderland School of Nursing. The first Helen McArdle Nursing prize will be presented to an outstanding graduating nurse at the University’s winter academic awards in November 2019.

Strictly Sunderland

The BBC's flagship show Strictly Come Dancing has returned to our screens, and this year features a former Sunderland student.

Comedian and actor Chris Ramsey studied BA Film and Media at the University from 2005 to 2007. During his studies Chris's stand-up career took off, he was nominated Chortle Student Comedian of the Year in 2008, and he never completed his degree.

As well as sold-out solo stand-up tours, Chris has appeared regularly on Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats and Celebrity Juice, and from 2012-2013 was lead in the popular sitcom, Hebburn, written by fellow former Sunderland student Jason Cook, who graduated BA Media Production in 2004.

Return to AboutUS


US Active

To coincide with the launch of US Active, Team Sunderland are hosting their inaugural US Active Together Week.

The week runs from Monday 16 September and features a range of activities for new and returning students.

US Active is the participation based arm of the sports delivery at the University of Sunderland. Its aim is to get you active at your own pace, there’s no competition involved and simply focuses on increasing participation in activity.

There’s plenty of opportunity to get involved with new activities, ranging from their Back to Netball sessions, to lunchtime runs around the city as well as water sports and adventure opportunities. (see list below)

Return to AboutUS

US Active is an ideal way to meet new people and the US Active Together Week encourages this.

A packed timetable with lots of events means there will hopefully be something for all students to get involved with.

Team Sunderland Sports Development Officer Brooke Cochrane encouraged people to come along.

“US Active Together Week is a great opportunity for new and current students to get involved in various activities before their academic sessions start.

“US Active together creates an open environment allowing students to get active without being in a competitive environment.”

Activities during the week include indoor climbing, e-sports, surfing, teqball and biking with a host of different facilities around the city being used.

Team Sunderland Sports Development Officer Rob Graham said: “This week is designed to help students start their university journey with positive experiences – meeting new people and getting active a pace that suits you, all with a big smile on your face. 

“We take a holistic approach to our students wellbeing, US Active is here for our students to feel like they belong here in Sunderland and to ensure they are physically and mentally fit for student life.”

To sign up for any of the activities contact Rob Graham at or Brooke Cochrane at



1,000 10k runs in 1,000 days

A graduate has finished a charity challenge which saw him take on 10km (6.2 miles) runs for 1,000 consecutive days.

Scott Baker, who graduated BSc Sport and Exercise Development in 2014, was inspired to raise money for Target Ovarian Cancer after his mother was diagnosed with the illness three years ago.

Return to AboutUS

The 44-year-old Sunderland fan set off for the final run from his home town of Seaham, County Durham, and finished at the team's Stadium of Light.

He began the challenge on 1 December 2016 and has raised more than £5,000.

"It's good to get to the finish," the father of two said. "If I had done a marathon it would've been over in a day, and probably wouldn't have raised as much awareness.

"I've been overwhelmed by the generosity of people and the encouragement they've given.

"It's a little bit weird getting all the attention. I just like running. It's been a really good journey. I've enjoyed every minute."

He hopes further fundraising events will bring his total to £10,000. To sponsor Scott go to:
He said he had never contemplated not finishing the challenge, and plans to celebrate his achievement with a further 10km run on Wednesday.

"Sun, rain, everything... I just put my trainers on and go for a run," he said.

"Sometimes it's been hard to fit in, especially when Sunderland have been playing at Wembley and I've been running at one o'clock in the morning.

"Sometimes I've done a run at 11 o'clock and then another one at midnight to fit it in for the next day, but I've never thought 'I don't want to do it'."


Join your Team

Team Sunderland are looking for students to join their sports teams and take part in weekly fixtures against other universities around the country.

  • Team Sunderland Cricket
  • Team Sunderland Golf
  • Team Sunderland Rugby League
  • Team Sunderland Table Tennis
  • Team Sunderland Volleyball

For more information contact:

Return to AboutUS



Linzi Saunders knows better than anyone the importance of signing the NHS Organ Donor Register.

In her 22 years, she has had her life saved three times thanks to transplant surgery.

If it had not been for someone agreeing to donate their organs, Linzi, a student at the University of Sunderland, would not be here to tell her story.

Now, as part of Organ Donation Week, Linzi, who is preparing to embark on an MA in Fine Art at the University, is urging others to add their names to the Register.

Return to AboutUS

Linzi, of Sunderland, said: “I have received three transplants; bone-marrow, heart and kidney.

“I feel so lucky to have had them as each one has helped to continue the life I love so very much.

“Because of everything I have been through I now find my ambition in life is to promote organ donation whenever I can and however I can. I hope to inspire others in any way I can; in a conversation, within my artwork as a student, or doing my donors proud by competing in the British Transplant Games every year.”

Linzi’s remarkable story starts not long after she was born. Diagnosed with two different complex types of leukaemia, medics decided they had no option but to try new research medication, with Linzi becoming the first patient to undergo this type of treatment.

It was then decided that a bone marrow transplant would be needed and all Linzi’s family were tested to see if they would be possible donors.

Her brother, James, proved a perfect match but, despite a successful transplant, the new treatment Linzi was receiving began affecting her heart and she went on to develop cardiomyopathy by the age of eight.

It was a condition doctors could not ignore and while still a pupil at Ryhope Junior School in Sunderland, Linzi was told she would need a new heart.

Put onto the NHS Organ Donor Register, she waited five weeks before being told that a donor heart had been found.

Linzi went into Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital on December 4, 2005, for the operation.

While mum Michelle, 50, and dad James, 53, waited by her bedside, Linzi astounded doctors by making a speedy recovery, returning to her Ryhope home on December 23.

Despite her fightback, Linzi would go on to miss much of Year 4 at school as she attended regular hospital appointments so specialists could keep a check on her.

But in 2014 Linzi developed the Norovirus which had a huge impact on her already weak kidneys.

It was a blow medics could not ignore as Linzi’s kidneys were only operating at 42% due to the treatment she had received as a baby.

The youngster was put back on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Again, medics tested members of her family to see if there was anyone who might match.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the mum-in-law of one of Linzi’s sisters also agreed to be tested - and turned out to be an ideal match.

On September 21, 2017, Linzi underwent her third transplant, again at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Linzi said: “Organ donation is so important to me as it has saved my life on more than one occasion, all three transplants have helped me achieve my goals in life such as competing in the British Transplant Games and starting college and university as well as getting on with normal everyday life.

“Having people sign up to the Organ Donor Register and people telling their family their wishes about donation is so important. It's truly amazing how one person can save eight people on the waiting list by donating their organs.”

In July this year, Linzi graduated from her Fine Art degree in front of family and friends at the Stadium of Light.

To sign the NHS Organ Donor Register, please click here

Did you know that we have a team who offer specific support for care experienced and estranged students?

We can support you with finding accommodation 52 weeks a year, moving house, additional financial support in the form of a We Care Scholarship and lots more.

See our web pages to find out more about the wide range of support we offer:

Want to find out more? Contact Wendy Price on or call 0191 515 2216.

Return to AboutUS

The Alumni Achiever of the Year Award is back and we want your nominations. To nominate click here.

Are you a graduate or do you know someone that graduated from the University of Sunderland, who deserves to be the Alumni Achiever of the Year? 

The aim of the award is to recognise and reward an outstanding member of our Alumni Association. This year we are looking for three seperate winners, with an award for alumni in the UK, Kenya and Hong Kong.

Return to AboutUS

Nominees must be alumni of the University of Sunderland or its predecessor institutions* and should exhibit outstanding, noteworthy achievement in at least one of the following areas: 

  • Professional success demonstrated by notable career achievements and/or;
  • Extraordinary community involvement and/or;
  • Excellent service to the University in the following: service in alumni programmes, on advisory committees, student recruitment, internships, mentoring and job placement, and through efforts made to ensure the welfare of the institution and/or;
  • Promoting the Alumni Association, organising class reunions and participating in career networking programs. 

*Including: Sunderland Technical College, Sunderland Art College, Sunderland Teacher Training College and Sunderland Polytechnic, INTel college Nairobi, Hong Kong College of Technology, RDI Management Learning and the University of Hong Kong School of Professional and Continuing Education.

To be eligible for nomination, alumni do not have to be working in the particular discipline from which they graduated.

Methods of nomination

Nominations may be made for the Alumni Achiever of the Year Award by any of the following individuals or groups:

  • Any staff member of the University of Sunderland
  • Any member of an affiliate or support organization of the University
  • Any University of Sunderland former student
  • Any friend of the University of Sunderland
  • Alumni may nominate themselves

Nomination Deadline

Nominations must be received by 5pm on the closing date, the closing dates are as follows:

  • Hong Kong - Friday 18 October 
  • Kenya - Tuesday 15 October
  • Sunderland - Tuesday 15 October

Presentation of the Alumni Achiever of the Year Award 2019 

The winner will be presented with their award at the winter graduation ceremonies.

  • Hong Kong - Sunday 8 December 2019
  • Kenya - Saturday 23 November 2019
  • Sunderland - Wednesday 27 - Friday 29 December


Stay Meningitis Safe

The National Meningitis Awareness Campaign wants all students vaccinated.
So if you haven’t already, don’t forget to register with a local GP and then book an appointment for your Meningitis vaccine.
Please contact Wellbeing should you need any support in doing this.

Some art with your coffee

When the University was looking to make their newest café appeal to students, they went to the obvious place, the students themselves, to create unique artworks.

The call went out to students and Jessica Browne, a local artist from Sunderland, was asked to create a splash of colour to complement the tea and coffee at the new Gateway Café.

Return to AboutUS

Jessica, 23, graduated MA Fine Art from the University last year, and is now studying for her PhD, also at Sunderland. She says her work – 21 paintings that cover the wall of the new café – was inspired by the natural world, and her native North East. 

“I’m a self-employed artist, and loaning some of my work to the University seemed like a great opportunity to get some of my art seen,” says Jessica. “Also, I’d just moved studios and I had way too many paintings, so it was nice to make a bit of space!

“The work is abstract, but inspired by botanical and plants from the region.”

Jessica’s work is making a splash in the region – as well as the work on display in the café, she is also one of a number of artists who have created surfboards for the exhibition, City by the Sea, on display at Sunderland’s Beam, the new development at the city’s former Vaux site.

“I really like the idea of creating work for my home city. I think you can have a sustainable career as an artist if you stay in the North East.”

Paula Bass, Deputy Director of Estates and Facilities at the University, says: "The new Gateway Café design presented a great opportunity to showcase work by our own very talented students.

"We are really grateful to Jess for loaning us her works featuring botanicals which compliments the new café design perfectly. 

"We will be changing the artworks on display in the Gateway Café on a regular basis and looking for other opportunities across both campuses to feature works by our students."


Aly is a world beater

Congratulations to graduate Aly Dixon who this weekend broke the world ultramarathon record.

Aly, a graduate of Sport and Exercise Development, who last year was awarded an Honorary Fellowship, broke the world record to win the 50km World Championships in Brasov, Romania 

She was running her first ultramarathon and crossed the finishing line in three hours seven minutes 20 seconds to knock over a minute off the previous record.

That mark was 3:08:39, set by South Africa's Frith van der Merwe in 1989.

Return to AboutUS

Aly, who was supported by the University's Institute of Sport's Elite Athletes scheme, ran in 2016 Rio Olympics. She was the fastest British woman in the 2017 London Marathon with a Personal Best of 2 hours 29.06 minutes. She came 18th in the 2017 IAAF World Championships Marathon and 6th in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Marathon.



Soon millions of children will return to school – with many entering the classroom for the first time.

The first day at both primary and secondary school can be as daunting as it is exciting for both children and parents.

Whether it is a young person’s first experience of life in reception class, or an older pupil making the move to secondary school, for many the big day is life-changing.

So as anxious parents linger outside the classroom for a glimpse of their loved ones, many children will take it all in their stride. But, for others, the adjustment may take some time.

Teaching and psychology experts from the University of Sunderland today told how adults – both carers and teachers – are key to providing that support mechanism for those who find first day nerves getting the better of them.

Return to AboutUS

Dr Amy Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland, said: “School transitions can be an anxious time for both children and parents."

“Dealing with changes in environment, fitting in and making new friends can be really stressful. Research shows that having good support from family, friends and teachers can help children to feel more comfortable with the transition to a new school or class, as well as having time to engage in fun activities - an after school club or some time reading their favourite book.

“Building a child's self-esteem can also help them to deal with changes, supporting them with new goals and helping them to achieve them.

“One way to help children build their self-esteem and boost their wellbeing is to help them develop their ability to 'bounce back' when faced with a challenge. Strong support from parents, family and teachers helps a child to develop their problem solving skills and feel like they can meet their own goals.”

Joshua Haustead (pictured, centre), aged four, is this week making the move from St Mary’s Childcare at the University of Sunderland to primary school in Whitburn.

Dad Paul Haustead said: “With Joshua already attending St Mary’s Childcare Centre, having seen him on his visit to the school and his generally outgoing personality I can’t foresee Joshua having any problems making the transition from nursery to primary school.  He seems very excited about his first day at school.”

Mikeala Morgans, Principal Lecturer: Team Leader, Initial Teacher Training at the University of Sunderland, said: “Starting school for the first time can cause excitement and uncertainty."

“It is seen by parents and children as big step up from nursery. In my experience, some children feel absolutely ready and excited for the change and others can feel overwhelmed and in need of more support to make the move. 

“However, what I do know is that however excited and confident or nervous and unsure children are, reception teachers are experts in their craft and know exactly how to nurture children and support parents in these early stages in their primary school careers.”

This Thursday, Princess Charlotte will attend her first day of school at Thomas's Battersea in London. She will be accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George.

Prince George, five, started at the school in 2017. He was taken to school on his first day by his father Prince William.

The move between primary and secondary school can be a significant leap for many children.

Mikeala added: “Despite all the hard work schools do to prepare pupils for the transition to secondary school, the move can feel daunting. 

“The set-up of secondary schools can differ to that of primary schools and that causes uncertainty for some and excitement for others. 

“As a parent who has gone through this, I was concerned about how my child would cope and he had lots of questions about what secondary school would be like.  However, the excitement of the variety of the day, having lots of different teachers and being able to engage with new subjects soon took over from any anxiety he had.

“Secondary staff are very good at managing this transition and the pastoral systems in place support pupils and their parents with the adjustment needed for successful transition into Key Stage 3.”

New graduate Gary White has been named one of the most exceptional young scientists in the region, and has decided to share his knowledge with the next generation as a teacher.

Gary, 22, graduated top of his year with a First Class degree in BSc Physiological Sciences from the University of Sunderland this summer. Work experience with A-Level students convinced Gary that teaching was the right path for him – and he’ll be back at Sunderland in October to study for his postgraduate teaching certificate.

Return to AboutUS

The University of Sunderland Postgraduate Open Day takes place this Wednesday (4 September) from 5.30pm to 8pm at CitySpace on Chester Road. Lecturers will be on hand to discuss courses, you can take a tour of the campus, find out more about postgraduate funding and have a look round University accommodation.

Gary, from Sunderland, begins his PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) course in October and has already secured a place teaching at Newcastle College in their health sciences department.

“I came to Sunderland because of the facilities,” says Gary. “I came to an Open Day for a look around, and compared to Newcastle and Northumbria universities it was definitely the best learning environment for me.

“I loved my time studying. The best thing about Sunderland is the lecturers.  You can speak to them any time you want, and it’s very informal, it’s almost like talking to a friend.”

Gary had originally planned to train to become a Physician’s Associate for the NHS, but work experience at a GP’s surgery convinced him that it wasn’t the career for him.

“Soon after that I worked with A-Level students who were visiting the University, and that refuelled my original dream of becoming a teacher.”

While he was studying Gary found he was struggling to achieve what he knew he was capable of, and approached the University’s Development Office to help him live independently, and free up more of his time for study and research. Gary was granted a Futures Fund Excellence Scholarship, part of the University’s award-winning DOSH scheme (Development Office Scholarships) which is open to all students studying at the University of Sunderland.

“The Futures Fund helped me live independently, and meant I didn’t have to take a part time job. I was able to really commit myself to my final year, so I could literally be in the labs every single day.

“My research project was on bacterial resistance, and it’s now in the process of being published to a journal. I also received the Undergraduate Physiology Prize from the Physiological Society, and I got a First.

“Those three things would definitely have not have been possible if it wasn’t for the Futures Fund scholarship.”

To find out more about DOSH scholarships go to: