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The work of a North East student to bring young people into the construction industry has led to her being recognised nationally.

Amy Holmes, 21, from Houghton-le-Spring, who is in the final year of her BA (Hons) Events Management degree at the University spent a year on placement at CENE (Constructing Excellence in the North East).

Colleagues were so impressed with her enthusiasm and original ideas that she brought to her placement they highlighted this to the University who then nominated her for the 2019 National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards.

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Amy was a finalist in the category Best Student Contribution to a Small to Medium-Sized Employer for her work with CENE, which saw her implement new initiatives, and raise the profile of young people working in construction in the region.

Amy says: “I can really see the value of my placement. I now have real and practical experience of planning, organising and hosting events, which is key to my future career plans.”

In the 15 months Amy was with CENE she organised seminars, site visits, networking events and supported with the award dinners.

As well as streamlining the events process and using social media to promote regional events, Amy, alongside BA (Hons) Broadcast Media Production graduate Gary Aggett, who now works as videographer for Dance City, created a promotional video showcasing careers for young people in construction – you can view the video here:

Amy added: “I now have real and practical experience of planning, organising and hosting events which is a key skill in my future career plans.”

Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence North East, says: “Amy has supported the transformation in the way we work, bringing in new ideas on how to run an office more efficiently using a shared filing system.

“Amy is a joy to work with and we wish her the very best, and know she will do herself proud.”

The CENE team: Leanne Conaway (Events Manager), Kate Lloyd (Programme Manager), Chief Executive of CENE Catriona Lingwood and University of Sunderland Events Management student Amy Holmes

One of the region’s leading consultants in elderly medicine and a much-loved mentor to dozens of junior doctors for almost two decades has taken up a key role in the University of Sunderland’s new School of Medicine.

Dr Andy Davies who currently heads up the Falls and Syncope Service and is a consultant in elderly medicine at Sunderland Royal Hospital, has been appointed Undergraduate Programme Lead by the University.

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In this role, Dr Davies will lead on delivering the underpinning principles of the new school. Sunderland is one of only five new medical schools to be announced in the UK - established to address the regional imbalance of medical education places across England and to widen access to ensure the profession reflects the communities it serves. The University is collaborating with its health partners to address the chronic shortage of doctors in the North East.

Dr Davies has been involved in teaching and training since 1997 and is regional Foundation Programme Director with responsibility for doctors with differing needs across all the nine acute trusts in the North East and Cumbria. He is an Educational and Clinical Supervisor for foundation doctors and a local Foundation Tutor at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust. He delivers workshops on doctors with differing needs at the annual regional Foundation Conference and has presented this work nationally.

He chairs the British Geriatric Society Cardiovascular Section and is responsible for the delivery of two annual, national conferences on the topic of cardiovascular disease in the elderly.

Professor Scott Wilkes, head of the School of Medicine, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Dr Andy Davies to the University of Sunderland. He brings a unique set of skills which will benefit the students enormously. Andy is a geriatrician at our neighbouring Sunderland Royal Hospital. Our focus in setting up the school has been upon the needs of the NHS which include the increasing elderly population with many medical problems, taking lots of medication and of course those very common problems we see in our society including high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.”

He added: “As well as his 28 years’ experience in the acute hospital sector he brings over 20 years’ experience in teaching undergraduate medical students and junior doctors in training. His insights, knowledge and caring nature will stand our medical students in good stead to become some of the best doctors in our region and beyond in years to come.”

Dr Davies, whose own journey into medicine reflects the student doctors signing up to Sunderland’s programme, said: “I was inspired to join Sunderland as Scott Wilkes is leading the School of Medicine and has a very clear vision for Widening Participation.

“Encouraging students from a similar background to my own and giving them an opportunity to study medicine really inspired me, I want to ensure they get the best support throughout the process.”

Growing up on a terraced street in Manchester, Dr Davies says he was inspired by his father’s own determination to reinvent himself from a clerk in the cotton mills to becoming a head teacher at a primary school.

There was also his experience of living with chronic ill health in the home when his mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was just a boy.

He set himself onto a better path of education at a grammar school after passing his ‘eleven plus’ exams, and would later be encouraged by one of his teachers to study medicine.

The path led him to Newcastle University, where he graduated in 1990 and met his wife, a midwife, so beginning his life-long devotion to the North East.

He said: “This is my place now, my two children both grew up in Sunderland and I hope we can engender a love for the region in others with the School of Medicine.

“Once the school is 500 strong, we hope to have people who have that determination to support the local economy and work here as GPs, hospitals doctors or psychiatrists. To invest in the local economy, be part of the fabric of the city – if that happens, it has the potential to add to the transformation of the city, both in terms of health and the local economy.”

Dr Davies will spend three days a week on campus and the rest of the week will be spent continuing his clinical work as a consultant geriatrician at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“If you want to understand the challenges of clinical medicine while you teach it you need to still be participating even in a reduced capacity,” he says, “you need to know what the challenges are facing junior doctors.”

Dr Davies was set on the path of elderly care medicine by a consultant during his time as a junior doctor and then passing his professional exams.

He explained: “The patients I was meeting at that time were the most vulnerable in society and I felt a sense of responsibility in this area. I also loved the teamwork; caring for the elderly is very much multi-disciplinary  from physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing staff and social workers, we all sat down together to consider the best plan for each patient, and it was inspiring.”

He added: “During my career I have also really enjoyed teaching and developing curriculum and the pastoral care of students.

“Now as Undergraduate Programme Lead at Sunderland, I’ll be working with the lead educational providers across the region – the acute hospitals and mental health trusts.

“I am working with the hospitals in the region to recruit clinical teachers across a range of specialties, my job is to appoint and support them in the delivery of the training in each of the hospitals.

“When the students go to the hospitals in Year 3 to Year 5, they will be supported locally by clinical teachers, and it’s my job to support them in that role.”

What are the qualities Dr Davies will be looking for in the next generation of doctors?

“We want to see students with compassion and understanding, to be respectful of their patients and the need to be skilled communicators,” he says. “They need to see medicine as a science that they love and commit to for as a vocation. To be inquisitive and have an ability to constantly want to evolve and develop.”

Asked what the highlight of his own career has been so far, Dr Davies said: “The greatest achievement has been to work with the students I taught all those years ago and to see them now as fantastic consultant and GP colleagues with the right skills and attitude to do the job and above all to have compassion for their patients.”

About the School of Medicine

Sunderland is one of only five new medical schools, established to address the regional imbalance of medical education places across England and to widen access to ensure the profession reflects the communities it serves. With a track-record of excellence in medical education spanning almost 100 years, the University is now well-placed to address the chronic shortage of doctors in the North East. Focusing on GP and Psychiatric training, the new programme will complement existing medical provision in the region and add to the diversity of medical schools in the UK.


No Smoking Day

Wednesday 13 March is #NoSmokingDay when thousands of people up and down the country will be making it the day they decide to quit.

Why not take your first step towards stopping?

For free tools and support visit or speak to your local pharmacy or GP.

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The following student has been awarded the degree of Professional Doctorate:

Dr Ian Carr

'Challenge, Support and the Authentic Graduate; A Framework of Employability Practice.'

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Our University hosted a Fustal Festival with pupils from across the city in partnership with Durham FA.

The event saw four Sunderland Primary Schools attending the University’s CitySpace sports and social facility on City Campus, bringing 40 Year 6 children with them to experience futsal for the first time.

Schools all had the chance to play two games of futsal with the support of Sports Coaching students, giving them an opportunity to develop their understanding and learn key skills in this increasingly popular format of the game.

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Pupils also took part in a leadership workshop where they discussed the qualities of a sports leader, before designing their own game using a variety of equipment and delivering the game to their peers.

The event was staffed by 15 volunteers from the University who were undertaking the first year of their Sports Coaching or PGCE courses, with the hopes of going on to become teachers in the future.

Matthew Egan, Physical Education and Sports Coaching student, said: “I learnt a new sport and the rules for futsal; furthermore I got the chance to referee the game which also gave me more knowledge and more hands-on experiences in a sporting environment.”

Kayleigh Appleton, PGCE student, said: “It was amazing to get involved with such a rewarding day. Putting new knowledge into practice and giving something back to the community. It was enjoyable, engaging and worth giving up my own time for.”

Morc Coulson, Senior Lecturer in Health Related Exercise, at the University of Sunderland, said: “This event is targeted at young children with a view to express themselves socially; it’s not just about football but helps them to make friends, develop their communication skills and builds team work. It’s a great engagement tool for the local community.

“Our students who volunteered on the day did an amazing job. They had a 15-minute briefing before the event and were incredibly professional and engaging, the kids loved it.

“This experience also forms part of their first-year assessment, so it was great practical experience for them too.”

Rob Graham, Sports Development Officer at the Institute of Sport at the University of Sunderland, added: “This was a fantastic event delivered in partnership with County Durham FA. Our students got valuable experience working with our local governing body and delivered a real high-quality event for local primary schools using Futsal to not only promote living healthy, active lifestyles but also embedding skills such as teamwork, leadership and co-operation.”

The schools involved were: St Paul's CofE Primary School, Farringdon Academy, Rickleton Primary School and St Patrick's RC Primary School.

About Futsal

Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced small sided football game that is widely played across the world and is officially recognised by both UEFA and FIFA.

The nature of the game places a large emphasis on technical skill and ability in situations of high pressure, and is subsequently an excellent breeding ground for football competencies that can be translated into the 11-a-side format of the game.

Many of the top world class footballers played Futsal in their youth and credit it with supporting their footballing development; players of the calibre of Pele, Zico, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Lionel Messi to name but a few of the South American legends all played and enjoyed Futsal.

Futsal is a five-a-side game, normally played on a flat indoor pitch with hockey sized goals and a size 4 ball with a reduced bounce. It is played to touchlines and all players are free to enter the penalty area and play the ball over head-height. Games are 20 minutes per half, played to a stopping clock (similar to basketball) with time-outs permitted.

There are a number of differences to our traditional version of small sided football, but the dominant elements are the absence of rebound boards and amendments in the laws that encourage and foster skilful, creative play above the physical contact that tends to be a feature of English five-a-side.

The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.


PhD announcement

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

Dr Claudia Melis

'Representations of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Implications for Tourism.'

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A Sunderland graduate will be back on campus this month to discuss his vital climate change research using historical documents and helping to find a whaling ship lost in the Arctic for more than 116 years.

After achieving his PhD at the University of Sunderland in 2017, Matthew Ayre, whose research revealed the secrets of early 19th century ice fronts around the Arctic, was offered a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Arctic Institute of North America, based at the University of Calgary in Canada.

Since then his work has led him to the discovery of the wreckage of Scottish whaling ship Nova Zembla, in the Canadian High Arctic using historical documents and newspaper clippings connected to the 19th century whaling trade. 

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Matthew’s talk at Sunderland will explore the history of the British whaling trade and its connections to the current Arctic climate, discovering the importance of the past to gain a greater understanding of the ever-changing polar north.

Matthew said: “I’m really looking forward to returning to Sunderland to discuss climate change which is the largest challenge facing humanity, and the Arctic is the canary in the mine.

“For nearly 40 years we have witnessed a near continual and increasing downward trend in the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice. Changes in the Arctic affect the rest of the world. To forecast the future of this rapidly changing Arctic it is necessary to put these observations into a longer-term context. Proxy records can help extend the sea ice record back millennia but do not have the resolution to capture change on the timescales witnessed today.”

Matthew’s PhD research at Sunderland was part of the ARCdoc project, which analysed historical logbooks recorded by explorers, whalers and merchants during epic expeditions between 1750 and 1850. The project was created to increase our scientific understanding of climate change in this environmentally important region. The logbooks include famous voyages such as Parry’s polar expedition in HMS Hecla.

Some of the most significant data to emerge from the project has come from painstaking analysis of 60 logbooks belonging to whaling vessels, which contain descriptions of sea ice advancing and retreating every summer, all of which were recorded by whalers who ventured farther north than anyone else.

Matthew mapped what the ice was doing during some of that 100-year period around the David Straits area, and at a time pre-dating the emergence of significant volumes of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A comparison with satellite data from the last 30 years of this area shows the summer ice was then far more advanced than it is today.

Now considered a leading expert on historical log book analysis, the 31-year-old, from North Tyneside, is continuing his research with historical logbooks as part of the Northern Seas project at the Arctic Institute.

To understand how the data relates to today’s ice cover decline, Matthew had to translate the whaler’s archaic terminology into the first ever sea ice dictionary in standard 21st Century observational vocabulary. To do this he has traced every sea ice definition in UK history from satellite data of the last three decades, to the accounts of renowned Arctic explorer, scientist and Whitby whaler William Scoresby Jnr (1789-1857). Scoresby wrote an account of the Arctic regions and also deciphered some of the log book’s terminology.

Matthew was also able to validate his data and the accuracy of his dictionary on board the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a research vessel and the US’s only operating polar ice breaker, where he spent five weeks recording what was happening to the ice.

Matthew will deliver his talk alongside Dr Debbie Smith, who led the ARCDoc research, is a fellow climatologist and retired University of Sunderland lecturer.

Tickets are limited and free of charge, but must be booked via EventBrite.

There is free parking at National Glass Centre. Refreshments are provided.

Dr Debbie Smith

Dr Smith was a lecturer at the University of Sunderland from 1979 until her retirement in 2013. She has led a number of funded international research projects in climate change, authored three books and published over 100 scientific papers.

When Bhavika Girdhar arrived in Sunderland to start her MPharm programme, she missed one thing from back home in Canada – little sister Kanika.

But not even 5,646 miles of ocean were going to stop this pair from proving that blood is thicker than water.

Taking a leaf out of Bhavika’s book, Kanika decided to enroll on MPharm too and now the pair are living and studying together in the city.

If you would like to nominate a student you can nominate using this form and email it to  

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Bhavika, 24, said: “She arrived here in September and although I’m in my last year, it’s amazing to have her here and to be back together.

Now, Bhavika has nominated Kanika for the University of Sunderland’s Rate your Mate awards. The awards aim to shine a light on hard working students who go above and beyond in their studies, life and work while studying.

Kanika, 18, said: “I was quite nervous when I moved here but it’s been brilliant having that sense of independence; of shopping for myself, making our own food etc.

“Bhavika had told me how good the pharmacy course was here and I knew she had settled in the city, so I wanted to come and join her.”

Now, parents Sanjay and Neupam are having to adjust to empty nest syndrome with both their daughters being far from the family home in London, Canada.

Bhavika added: “It’s a long way and it’s not like they can just call round for a visit, but they are planning to come over for my graduation.”

So why did Bhavika decide to nominate her little sister?

“She’s just been brave coming over here and settling into a new country at just 18-years-old,” she adds.

“I know she was nervous but she’s done really well since arriving last September.”

And what is Kanika planning to do once her big sister’s graduates?

“I’ll have three more years to get to know Sunderland. And I won’t be the baby anymore,” she adds.

The University is the main sponsor of the This is is Tomorrow Festival, which takes place at Newcastle's Exhibition Park from 24-26 May. Sunderland students can claim an exclusive 30% discount on tickets.

The three day festival features Stereophonics, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Foals, Editors and Glasvegas, among many others.

University of Sunderland students can claim one pair of single day tickets, two day or three day tickets with an exclusive 30% discount.

To claim* use the discount code SUNDERLAND30, and ensure that you order using your email address to confirm your purchase.

*Please note you will need to provide your student ID on the day to gain entry. The discount is non transferable.

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Sydney Madu, 23, from Alberta Canada, is in the second year of her MPharm Pharmacy degree, was awarded a Hope Winch Scholarship, one of the many scholarship available from DOSH (Development Office Scholarship).

Sydney writes about how her scholarship helped her to continue with her studies below.

The Hope Winch Scholarship is now open to Pharmacy students - apply by Friday 29 March.

If you would like to find out more about the scholarships available to current student from our Development Office go to:

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“I always wanted to study Pharmacy and Sunderland was really accommodating for international students.

“I was very prepared in my first year, and had savings before I came to Sunderland, but last year I wasn’t able to work, and very quickly all of the bills accumulated. I also have Canadian student loans, and it was starting to become a real burden. Some of my classmates were volunteering, and I wasn’t able to do that, and I was worried I was falling behind.

“The Hope Winch Scholarship attracted me because it’s specific to Pharmacy, and I thought it could be really helpful. It was very straightforward applying for the award, my tutor wrote me a letter, and after that it was very simple.

“I feel much more relaxed now. I know I’ll be able to pay my rent until my next set of loans comes in, and hopefully find some work.”

Every year the University’s Development Office awards tens of thousands of pounds in scholarships. Development Officer Scholarships (DOSH) are exclusive to current students, both undergraduate and postgraduate studying at the University of Sunderland. Scholarships are free money that is non-means tested that you never have to pay back. If you’d like to find out more now go to:

Let's Move for a Better World

CitySpace is embarking upon a global challenge designed to promote the benefits of a more active lifestyle, and tackling the problems associated with obesity related health issues.

The Let’s Move for a Better World Challenge 2019 has been designed by our colleagues at Technogym to address the impact of a sedentary lifestyle by motivating gym users, our trainers and members of the University and local community to be more active and enjoy the social circle that comes with exercise and regular activity.

Let’s Move for a Better World’s mission is to spread awareness of the benefits of regular exercise through a fun and exciting challenge that also promotes socialization.

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The challenge begins on March 11 and runs until March 30 and will see CitySpace compete against gyms and fitness clubs across the globe.

CitySpace are also offering prizes for participants of the challenge, these include; Fitbit’s, gym memberships, O’Neills sportswear, water bottles, T-shirts and meal offers.

By taking part in the Let’s Move for a Better World Campaign, you pledge to donate the physical activity generated in our Fitness Suite to a social cause.  This could mean Fitness equipment for a local school.  The more people who get involved, the more MOVEs we collect.

We’d still like students and staff to get involved and so as an incentive, CitySpace fitness is offering a month of gym access for just £10 while members of Team Sunderland clubs can gain free access to the gym for the month of March by showing their Team Sunderland sports card at the CitySpace reception.

For further details, contact 0191 515 2009




We have been advised by Student Finance England that they will not be sending reminders out to continuing students to re-apply for their funding for the coming year.

Continuing students are advised that you can apply now to SFE for your funding - do not wait for your invite to re-apply.

You can apply now using your SFE online account:

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Students have put our University in the national spotlight after voting Sunderland as one of the top ten universities in the UK in the 2019 Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs).

Our students voted Sunderland among the top ten universities in the UK for Student Support and International.

What's your view? We are running our largest annual survey of student opinions - let US know what you think, it only takes a few minutes to have your say:

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The Whatuni Student Rankings are based on averages taken from thousands of reviews submitted by students and recent graduate and published on The rankings offer prospective students an unbiased, student-led alternative to traditional university ranking systems. 

Over 41,000 student reviews from 160 institutions across the UK were submitted to this year’s WUSCAs. 

Katie Duncan, Head of Communications, IDP Connect, who administrate the What Uni review site, says “In a challenging climate for Higher Education institutions, there is nothing more rewarding than being recognised by their students for delivering such positive experiences. The reviews by current students that make up these nominations are invaluable for prospective students who use them to make decisions about their future.”

The Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019 take place in London on 25 April.

Budding actors from our University will tread the boards this week to showcase their skills as part of a regional theatre competition.

Year 1 and 2 Performing Arts students will participate in the All England Theatre Festival (AETF) at Art's Centre Washington, performing extracts from Arthur Miller's The Crucible and D.C.Jackson's My Romantic History.

Each year amateur groups from across the country enter the All England Theatre Festival through a series of local festivals.

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The first Durham and Sunderland One Act Festival, a qualifying round in the AETF event, was held for the first time at Arts Centre Washington last year and hailed as a great success.

The 2019 Festival has again attracted seven groups to perform this week, with nine varied productions all this week – comedy, drama and tragedy. The winner of this will go forward to the Northern Region Semi-Final, to be held at the Arts Centre Washington on May 4 and 5.

This will bring together the winners of AETF festivals across the North. The winner from this will go forward to the All England Final in Maidenhead on June 8.

Adelle Hulsmeier, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performing Arts, said: “We thought this was an excellent opportunity for our students to get involved in something that was extra curricula and promoted their skills in an employability environment. The experience which they have all volunteered for also allows them to represent the university and what we do.”

She added: “Both plays have mature and challenging themes which the students have embraced and we are very proud of the dedication and effort they have showed during their rehearsals.”

The festival will be adjudicated by Sue Doherty, of the internationally recognised Guild of Drama Adjudicators. Each night after the final play she will give her thoughts on the plays and on Saturday (March 9) she will present the awards ceremony where the winners of eight trophies will be announced: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Role, Best Cameo, Most Promising Actor or Actress, Adjudicator’s Award, New Writing Award and the Champion Trophy.

Alan Godfrey, MBE, organiser of the Durham and Sunderland One Act Festival, said: “We invite audiences to come along to support their local group, and be entertained by a variety of tragedy, drama and comedy.”

The Sunderland students will be performing on Saturday 9 March, at 7.30pm, with extracts from “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, followed by extracts from “My Romantic History” by D J Jackson (this play contains strong language and adult themes). Followed by the Durham and Sunderland One Act Festival Awards Ceremony.

For more information or to book, click here

On the day the University of Sunderland welcomes a new woman professor, we take the chance to celebrate the rich, diverse academics changing students’ lives.

We asked a selection of our leading female experts just what International Women’s Day (IWD) means to them.

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Lynne McKenna, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, has just learned she has received the title of Professor.

Reacting to the news, she said: “I am absolutely delighted to be conferred the title of Professor from the University where I first studied as an undergraduate trainee teacher.

“My time here as an undergraduate student in the 1980’s prepared me for a career path which I would never have dreamed possible. I do recognise though, that the title Professor carries great responsibility and I want to ensure that I continue to lead the way both professionally and personally and to support our staff and students to achieve their potential too.”

Speaking about the importance of IWD to her, Professor McKenna said: “The recent ‘WomenCount: Leaders in Higher Education 2016’ report reveals that men still overwhelmingly dominate the top leadership positions in 166 Higher Education Institutions in the UK.

“Men chair 81 per cent of all governing bodies and hold 78 per cent of Vice-Chancellor or Principal roles. More widely, the rise of women to senior leadership positions in the workplace is often promoted under the banners of ‘equality’ and ‘positive discrimination’.

While this imbalance is reflected at leadership levels in workplaces across our society, I’m pleased to say that there are aspirations to address this in Higher Education. Organisations such as Women in Higher Education Management Network (WHEM), and WomenEd are representing the advancement of women in the sector, while the Athena Swan Charter Mark is an external indicator of equality in Higher Education.

“Universities would be irresponsible in the wider societal context if they did not recognise and celebrate the contribution of all its staff.

“It is extremely important that all staff have equal access to opportunity, support and equal pay and this needs to be an underpinning principle of Higher Education. After all, the benefits of equal opportunities can only lead to improved career satisfaction and a supporting working environment.”

Debs Patten is a Professor of Anatomy at the new School of Medicine set to open at the University.

She said: “IWD is a day to celebrate the value and impact that women bring to our world and society, and to recognise and be thankful for those women who have advanced gender equality for all of us. It’s hard to believe that in 2019 women are still not present in equal numbers as leaders in business, politics and education too. 

“Growing up here in Sunderland I was fortunate to be encouraged by my family and teachers that with hard work, focus, determination and self-belief, I could be successful in science. Looking back, once I left school and entered into academia, whilst plenty of my peers were women, there weren’t many female role models in senior positions around me at that time, and mentorship certainly wasn’t available.  

“Thankfully, we now have many more academic women in leadership positions serving as role models and mentors, including my peers. It is wonderful to be see it and to be part of it. 

“I do feel that while progress may feel painfully slow, positive change is happening.  We can speed it up though. International Women’s Day raises awareness that we all share responsibility to champion inclusion, embrace diversity and be active in advancing equality.”

Professor Arabella Plouviez is Dean of Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University.

She said: “IWD means having a time in the year to celebrate and recognise the importance of women’s equality, and the complexity and diversity of what that might mean.

“It is also a recognition that our society, as many others, are at different stages of a journey that values women’s equality

“Sometimes we don’t notice the every-day sexism that can limit the aspirations of girls and women, or the limitations we can place on people through simplistic stereotypes and limited imagination.

“And it is in academia that we can push forward towards, and test out, what is possible rather than what is, and essential to that challenge is the range of voices that inform and shape our future. Women’s voices need to be part of that, at every level of the conversation.

“International Women’s Day is celebratory and provides one day for all of us to focus our thoughts on women’s experiences across the world, and what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century.”

Angela Smith is Professor of Language and Culture at the University of Sunderland.

She said: “For me, IWD provides a space to pause and celebrate the progress towards gender equality that we have made since the first such event 110 years ago. 

“This year, we are celebrating IWD through a series of events across both campuses. The University of Sunderland, for me, is a place where gender equality is taken seriously and I am very proud to the first female professor in English, in a faculty lead by the first female Dean, Professor Lynne McKenna. I hope we can use IWD to draw attention to the great work this university does in promoting gender equality.”

Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures at the University of Sunderland, said: “For me IWD is a celebration of women centred politics and activism – from protecting rights to abortion through to equal pay and conditions. But it is also about recognising the ways in which women’s interests can be very diverse, that progress for some women might come at the expense of others and no one should be left behind.

“We have to keep fighting for all women’s choices especially as the rise of the Right brings with it attempts to roll back gains, particularly about women’s bodily and sexual autonomy, in the name of ‘protecting’ us.

“I’ve been lucky enough to find a supportive family in academia and a number of women have proved to be absolutely inspirational and amazing colleagues – my Master’s degree in Women’s Studies was filled with women academics who really changed the way I was thinking about the world.”

Alumni Achiever of 2018 and University of Sunderland Lecturer in Illustration Holly Sterling comes from a sporting background, once named British Universities Karate Champion, as well as the UK National Women’s Karate Champion.

She said: “I come from a strong sporting background, where I have been exposed to a heavily male dominated environment from a very young age. Seeing this through my life has driven me to battle against this and strive for equal representation on all levels for the sake of generations to follow.

“My experiences in the sporting world have without a doubt helped to form the person that I am today - working hard and standing up for what I believe in. I always try to bring this into my academic position at the University through my professional career as an author/illustrator but as a lecturer and mentor to my students.

“As an academic establishment, is important that we provide strong instructional role models - both male and female - with valuable voices and good work ethics, so that we can inspire the next generation to be better.”

Professor Arabella Plouviez, Holly Sterling, Professor Angela Smith, Professor Lynne McKenna, Professor Debs Patten and Professor Clarissa Smith