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Sir David Bell KCB will be the next Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland. The appointment was approved by the University’s Board of Governors at their meeting on 5 July.

John Mowbray OBE, DL, Chair of the University’s Board of Governors said “The appointment is excellent news for the University of Sunderland. Sir David impressed the selection panel with his exceptional leadership qualities and his outstanding career in public office and the education sector. We are confident that he is a worthy successor for Shirley Atkinson who is stepping down from her role as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive later this month, leaving a financially robust institution that is rightly proud of its heritage and recent achievements - and confident about its future.

“We had an extremely strong field of applicants who were attracted by the University’s ambitious Strategic Plan, our life-changing student centric ethos and our transformative regional impact and global reach.”

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Sir David will join the University from the University of Reading where he has held the post of Vice-Chancellor since January 2012.

Under Sir David’s leadership and through working with his colleagues, student numbers, research activity and overall income have grown substantially at Reading since 2012. In addition, the University has expanded the reach of its work through major initiatives such as the Thames Valley Science Park and large-scale partnerships with organisations as diverse as the British Museum, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Arts Council England and the British Army. Sir David has also overseen a campus capital investment programme of nearly £200m.

Sir David said “I am both thrilled and honoured to be joining the University at such an exciting time in its development. I have always had the greatest respect for the University’s inclusive ethos and how it delivers opportunities and personalised support for students from all walks of life.

“I know that Sunderland is highly regarded as an anchor institution in the region, committed to delivering excellence in teaching and research. I am particularly excited about the prospect of working with students, staff and partners to deliver a flexible, relevant academic curriculum and a compelling research agenda. I am also committed to delivering a vibrant student experience and great outcomes for Sunderland’s learners. All in all, I look forward to leading this inspiring institution and becoming part of its community.”

Sir David will take up the post as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland in the autumn.

A spokesperson for the Students’ Union said:

“The student body will be delighted with this appointment. Sir David has a track-record in overseeing the student journey and working with the student community to improve the overall experience. We are looking forward to working with him.”

More on Sir David Bell:

Sir David will join the University from the University of Reading where he has held the post of Vice-Chancellor since January 2012.

Originally from Glasgow Sir David attended a comprehensive school in the city and studied at the University of Glasgow.

His early career included primary school teaching posts culminating in a head teacher role in Essex.  He was appointed as Director of Education and Libraries at Newcastle City Council in 1995 and has a great affinity with the North East region.

He became Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools in 2002 and then Permanent Secretary at the Department of Education from January 2006 to September 2012.

These girls can

What do you get if you cross and England international footballer, a marathon champion and a world-class tenpin bowler?

Answer: three elite sportswomen graduating from the University of Sunderland.

It was a triple whammy as the lioness, runner and bowler lined up to collect their honours during the University’s graduation ceremony on Thursday.

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Sunderland’s own footballing superstar Jill Scott and Wearside-born long distance runner Alyson Dixon were made honorary graduates while England tenpin bowler Becky Daly helped make it a day of girl-power as she graduated from Sports and Exercise Sciences.

Jill said: “I was so much more nervous than I thought I was going to be. I'm used to playing in team sports but standing up there on the stage in front of hundreds of people was quite daunting.

"It's been a real honour being here today and I wish all the graduates all the luck in the world.”

Aly admits she was nervous too: “It was all quite nerve-wracking - give me a start-line any day!

"I was so honoured to be standing up there, I only hope I was able to say something inspiring to all the graduates out there.”

Growing up in Sunderland Jill Scott was a keen long-distance runner, winning the under-13s cross-country title for Sunderland Harriers, and the Junior Great North Run – but she was also beginning to make her mark as a player for Boldon Girls.

Jill studied for a Foundation Degree in Sports and Exercise Development at Gateshead College, and went on to study at Loughborough University. She balanced her academic career with her growing reputation as a footballer.

She began her senior career with Sunderland Women, winning Women’s Player of the Month aged only 18. Jill then joined Everton Ladies, and despite her first match ending with a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal Ladies, she was named FA Tesco Player’s Player of the Year in 2008.

In 2013 Jill joined Manchester City, helping them secure the Continental Trophy in 2014. Her success in club football has been matched by her international career, in which has shown flair and leadership throughout her career playing for England.

Jill made her debut for England as a senior in 2006, having captained the under-19s side for the previous year and a half. She has gone on to be capped 126 times for her country, scoring 21 goals in international competition.  Jill has played for England in three World Cups, and in the 2012 London Olympics, a competition that transformed public perception of the women’s game.

Aly Dixon’s Olympic dream was cultivated in Sunderland where she was born and bred. She attended Richard Avenue Primary School, Thornhill Comprehensive and City of Sunderland College. She then enrolled with Sunderland University to study Sport and Exercise Development.

Aly grew up among sport – her father ran marathons and she often cycled alongside him while he was out training and joined him in fun runs.

Scroll forward to 24 April 2016 and the London Marathon and Aly was finally living her dream of becoming an Olympian. She was the first British woman in that marathon and qualified for the Rio Olympics.

Since Rio, her achievements include being the first British woman again 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 most recently 6th in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Marathon.

Becky Daly graduated from her degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University on Thursday.

The 21-year-old has recently returned from the Tenpin Bowling World Championships in Brussels.

Becky said she was extremely proud to be standing beside her fellow young sportswomen receiving her award. She added: “Balancing my England duties alongside my studies has been extremely difficult especially when deadlines arrive when I am away on duty – but I’ve received such amazing support from the University with my sporting scholarship, and from my tutors allowing me to have extra time on my deadline dates.

“I am hugely grateful for all the help the University of Sunderland has given me, which has allowed me to continue to pursue my passion for bowling.”

Becky has been a keen player since she was 10 years old, and gained the nickname the Accrington Ace in her hometown of Blackburn.  As a junior she won gold, silver and bronze medals internationally. Now, as an adult player, she has won gold in the Triple Crown in Scotland and in Wales, and a further gold in the Commonwealth Games in South Africa in 2016. She has represented England in Vienna, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, South Africa and, most recently in the World Championships in Brussels.

Fledgling pharmacist Matthew Aiken’s empathy towards patients in his care have landed him a special memorial award during the University of Sunderland’s summer graduation ceremonies.

The Jemma O'Sullivan Award for Care and Compassion in the Practice of Pharmacy is presented each year to a graduate who has demonstrated these qualities during their degree course. Jemma O’ Sullivan was just 22 when she was killed in a motorway crash in 2010.

To mark a lasting legacy for Jemma, her parents Vincent and Margaret, sponsor this special award each year.

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This year, the award, which celebrates the caring qualities shown by Jemma during her own degree course, was presented to 24-year-old Matthew, during the graduation ceremonies at the Stadium of Light.

Matthew said: “I’m thrilled to receive this award, it’s very special. I chose this career because I wanted to make a difference to peoples’ lives in healthcare and show them that I care about their treatment.”

Pharmacy students go out on practice placements throughout their MPharm programme as well as meeting with patients in the classroom setting. The University asks the placement tutors and patients to nominate any student they felt stood out for their compassion and interaction with patients each year. They write a supporting statement for their nominations. The academic staff then vote for which student they would like to win based on the nomination statements.

Matthew, from Seaham, demonstrated that care, empathy and good communication skills with patients, asking relevant questions, appearing interested and enthusiastic without being intrusive during a number of pharmacy placements in the community, at independent outlets and at hospital pharmacy settings.

He explains: “I have always been a good talker and able to put people at ease. You are dealing with patients from such a range of health conditions, from stroke patients to those with severe mental health issues. But being able to help ease their concern and spend time talking to them reaps huge rewards. It’s a fantastic career!

“With is award I feel I have left my mark on this university and I’m graduating on a real personal high.”

Matthew, the first in his family to graduate, was presented with a special glass gift as well as a cheque to support his future career. This is the fourth year that the award has been presented.

Kathryn Davison, Team Leader – Pharmacy Practice & Clinical Therapeutics at the University of Sunderland, said: “Matthew was nominated for his caring approach to patients this year. His nomination highlighted that he had an excellent patient approach and put the patients at ease. The patients also described Matthew as friendly and easy to chat to.”

A large glass memorial, created at National Glass Centre, has also been permanently placed in the foyer of the University’s Sciences Complex. Recipients of the annual award have their names engraved onto a plaque that stands next to the memorial.

Jemma’s parents were very keen that the award didn’t necessarily reflect the top academic performance, but was about demonstrating the caring and compassionate qualities of a pharmacist. These were the qualities Jemma possessed; a friendly person who was easy to talk to. 

Jemma’s father Vincent said: “Jemma was a bright and intelligent young woman who brought nothing but joy to everyone who had the pleasure of meeting her. We felt this project encapsulates her memory, allowing us in some way to continue her good work and preserve what she represented.”

Matthew will now embark on his pre-registration as a clinical pharmacist at Wells Pharmacy in Sunderland over the next 12 months.

Jemma O’Sullivan

Jemma, from Limerick in the Republic of Ireland, was a passenger in a Citroen Berlingo on the M8, near Warmsworth, Doncaster, in September 2010, when a lorry crashed into it. The driver, who was texting at the time, was jailed for five years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

Since her death her family and friends have raised more than £100,000 to support a hospice pharmacy in South Africa treating people with HIV/AIDS.

Her father Vincent said: “The year before she died, Jemma had volunteered at an HIV hospice crèche, where there were 300 children, 80 per cent had HIV/AIDS, next door to a hospice in Pretoria; she had an incredible experience there and learned to listen and talk to patients, that was her great strength.”

“We decided to support the Leratong Hospice in Jemma’s memory, raising £100k, and renovated the pharmacy, stocking it with drugs for the next four years. It’s officially been called ‘Jemma’s Pharmacy’, there’s a lovely plaque at the site.”

He added: “We were also supported by South Yorkshire Police in an initiative called Jemma Bear.

“Some 500 teddy bears have been produced in memory of Jemma and will be used by police family liaison officers across South Yorkshire to comfort children involved in collisions on the roads.

“After discussion with South Yorkshire Police, we felt a toy bear may be a comfort and a perhaps a distraction to children trying to deal with shock or possible grief.”

Matthew Aitken

Matthew Aitken had wanted to be a doctor for as long as he could remember, but when he didn’t quite achieve the A-level science grades he needed at Durham Sixth Form, he decided to look for alternative opportunities in healthcare.

Pharmacy seemed like the next natural step for him, given his desire to work within the healthcare profession. When he was offered a place at all four universities he’d applied for across the UK, he was in no doubt the University of Sunderland was the place to study, given its reputation for pharmacy.

“The MPharm course was perfect, mixing academic studies with placements,” Matthew says. “I never saw myself working in an office, I wanted every day to be different and this course has certainly provided that. The role of a pharmacist is changing dramatically and the clinical teaching on the course massively reflects this.”

While Matthew threw himself into his studies, he admits struggling with a difficult module in the third year. However, having to resit the module turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Matthew as he says it helped him grow as a person.

“That was probably life’s first big setback for me, but made me realise what I needed to do. I also spent the time to work in healthcare centre, dealing with patients from all walks of life, so it certainly gave me perspective. We were dealing with 30,000 pharmacy items a month, it was intense but gave me huge experience. I was also given the opportunity to deal with patient enquiries by myself, which was a great confidence boost. We dealt with such a wide variety of people from overcoming communication barriers with stroke patients to dealing with those who have severe mental health issues.

“I truly felt I’d found my calling in life at this point, failing that module helped me learn things about myself I wouldn’t have learned. It made me much more rounded.

“I also understood why the lecturers and the course was so intense and challenging, it prepares you for the world of work, you need to be ready for the challenges of modern healthcare.”

Despite not coming from a family of healthcare professionals, Matthew says his parents have supported him all the way. He credits trips with his mum to a nursing home where she was a carer, when he was younger, in helping him gain an understanding of people’s health needs and challenges.

“I think I have always been able to talk to people and think that’s really helped me in my career, especially during the placements at community pharmacies and in clinical hospital settings.

“Also the patient session at university were so helpful.” Matthew recalls one lady who attended a session who revealed that her mum had died, her son had killed himself and her sister had died of cancer and within six months her second son killed himself.

“Some of the students struggled with these tough case studies and did not know what to say, she was left utterly on her own, but when she told you that story – that’s when I just start talking,” explained Matthew. “I think that’s where my strengths come into play, I’m a good talker and can put people at ease. This job is more than just about prescribing medicines - you’re dealing with people’s lives, it’s crucial to be able to communicate with them.”

Matthew will begin his pre-registration later this year with Wells Pharmacy in Sunderland and hopes in three years’ time to be able to return to Sunderland to complete a Post Graduate Independent Prescribing Course, to make him more of a comprehensive healthcare professional.

Lisa scores a degree hat trick

A Sunderland mum whose research has helped transform the lives of families across the country living with autism and complex behaviours will graduate from the University of Sunderland for the third time today.

Dr Lisa Alcorn has become one of the UK’s leading advocates on the use of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), a person-centred approach to supporting those with complex challenging behaviours, without the use of physical restraint. PBS has become more widespread in the health and social care industry since the Winterbourne View Care Home scandal in 2011 when the Department of Health introduced new guidelines on restrictive practices.

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Lisa has been championing the PBS model over the last six years with the support of a Professional Doctorate from the University of Sunderland, helping to put PBS theories into practice and developing a national framework for practitioners. It is a job she’s now doing as National Director of Operations with Potens, a provider of specialist support for adults with complex needs, championing the PBS model across 75 services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Today she steps on stage to collect her Professional Doctorate at the Stadium of Light, graduating for the third time, having already completed an undergraduate degree in Management, followed by a Masters in Applied Management all at the University of Sunderland.

However, she admits that her proudest moment has been seeing the impact her work has had on the life of a six-year-old autistic boy, now happily settled back into mainstream school following a period of exclusion, thanks to the PBS approach.

Lisa, from Sunderland, explained: “It’s lovely to graduate and a celebration of all the work and effort you put in, but for me the whole reason I have done this is to improve the quality of life for those with challenging behaviours, which we have done in numerous cases. This very complex little boy referred to Potens still stands out because of the positive impact PBS has had on him.

“He had been excluded and numerous educational provisions had failed because of his social anxieties around school and the classroom environment. We carried out an assessment in his home, built up his confidence, introduced strategies with the support of the school, creating an environment that reduces the sensory overload and within seven weeks he was back in full-time education and completing his Key Stage 1 SATS. He still has his behaviours, but they’re managed in a positive way. Hopefully by building those strategies early with him, he will achieve his educational targets. His parents have told us he now can’t wait to get to school – if we can keep that going for the rest of his life – I think our job will be done!”

Lisa added: “PBS is an approach I’ve adopted throughout my career when others considered it barmy, but it’s a common-sense approach that reduces the need for restrictive, physical interventions. We need to improve the understanding of those working in the sector, as well as the service users’ quality of life and delivering training frameworks around this.”

She added: “I have always wanted PBS to be seen as the national model in social care services and it’s now happening with numerous successful outcomes, underpinned by my Professional Doctorate.”

With a career spanning more than 25 years specialising in Autism and Positive Behaviour Support, Lisa has experience of managing residential, supported living and short breaks services across both autism specialist and learning disability services. She has been Head of Children’s Services for an autism specialist provider and as Head of Complex Needs undertaking a national role in designing and implementing positive behaviour support policies and practices.

Lisa credits the University for supporting her career progression and giving her the confidence to take on her national role.

She said: “I never thought I was clever enough to go to university, but once I began my course, I just got the bug. The great thing about Sunderland’s lecturers is they are all work-based practitioners themselves and I could easily relate to what they were teaching and talking about. It’s certainly broadened my scope.

“I was able to look at the theory relate it to and apply it to my own work, I then began to come up with my own theories, applying them to see what happened. All of a sudden things started to work and in meetings my ability and performance improved.”

The Professional Doctorate qualification, introduced by the University of Sunderland in 2007, enables professionals to base their studies on practical projects in their workplace and is the same level of qualification as a PhD. The qualification allows a professional to investigate contemporary issues facing their sector and make a contribution to professional knowledge that is applied and practical in nature.

Lisa is joined at this year’s Summer Graduation Ceremonies by her husband Gavin and two children Emily, 15, and Adam, 13, who have been a huge support to her throughout her University experience.

Dr Catherine Hayes, Lisa’s Doctorate supervisor said: “Lisa’s work epitomises our Professional Doctorate programme. We are enormously proud of the impact her Positive Behavioural Support system has had in applied health and social care practice. We are also truly humbled by her commitment to ensuring an improved quality of life for people living with autism and their families and carers.

“Lisa has been able to advise those at the highest levels of policy development of her new and innovative approaches to reducing the need for the physical restraint of vulnerable people and continues to inspire a whole generation of health and social care professionals with the roll out of this in practice. It has been a great privilege to work as Lisa’s Director of Studies and as part of the Professional Doctorate Team here at Sunderland, I wish her every future happiness and success. Her work is ‘Life Changing’ in the truest sense of the word and the whole team are immensely proud of her as she graduates from Sunderland today.”

About Potens

POTENS provides a range of specialist support for adults with complex needs including learning disability, autism, mental health needs, Acquired Brain Injuries, Korsakoffs and Behaviours that may be described as challenging. Support is delivered through supported & independent living, domiciliary care, residential care, respite and day opportunity services throughout England, North Wales and Northern Ireland.

About PBS

  • Positive Behaviour Support is a person-centred approach to people with a learning disability who may be at risk of displaying challenging behaviours. 
  • It is backed by evidence from behavioural science
  • Provides support based on inclusion, choice, participation and equality of opportunity
  • PBS seeks to understand the reasons for behaviour so that unmet needs can be met
  • Considers the person as a whole - their life history, physical health and emotional needs
  • It's proactive and preventative, focusing on the teaching of new skills to replac-e behaviours that challenge
  • Combines perspectives from different professionals

A Sunderland graduate has picked up a prestigious national science prize for his final year project to improve patient outcomes following organ transplantation.

Harry Carr has been awarded the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) President’s Prize at this week’s graduation ceremonies at the Stadium of Light, having achieved a First-Class Applied Biomedical Sciences degree for his project, proving himself an outstanding student.

The President's Prize of £100, plus certificate, is awarded to one student graduating from an IBMS accredited BSc Hons programme who has achieved academic distinction in a particular year who is also a member of the Institute.

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Harry said: “It was a wonderful surprise to receive the award, it’s nice to be recognised for the work I’ve done over the past year. I was happy enough to graduate with a First, so this prize is an amazing extra!”

Harry’s project, based on research by Dr Noel Carter, a Reader in Molecular Biology at Sunderland, focuses on transplantation and basic cell biology. Organs intended for transplant can be damaged when the donor dies or during the transplantation process. The damage can accelerate the process of organ rejection, Noel’s work is currently focused on understanding one of the mechanisms which underpin this acceleration, with the hope of interfering with it to slow or stop it. Harry’s role was to help in finding a way of reliably producing one of the protein involved so it could be studied more effectively.

Harry said:  “We were successful in this aim, and produced a workflow which can be used for future research. I found the experience very rewarding and learned a lot from working with Noel.”

Harry, whose love of science was inspired by a desire to improve people’s lives, added: “I wanted to work within science in a way which could have a direct impact on people’s lives, a biomedical scientist plays a critical role in diagnosing and monitoring patients, that’s what drew me to this area of study.”

Noel commented: “Harry has excelled in his project, he proved himself invaluable in the lab, and produced a thoroughly written up project which has led to his much deserved first class degree.

“It has been a pleasure to see him develop into a skilled and conscientious Biomedical Scientist.”

The 25-year-old, from Gateshead, received his award from Debra Padgett FIBMS, CSci, MSc IBMS North East Regional Representative to Council IBMS Chair of Membership and Marketing Infection Sciences Operational Manager, NCUH NHS TRUST, during the graduation ceremony.

“Achieving this accolade certainly gives Harry opportunities, not only to highlight the academic excellence from the university but also the real-life workplace experience.”

Harry’s receive the honour after achieving the highest academic mark on completion of his dissertation and degree. Debra Padgett said: “It is an honour to present Harry with the Presidents prize on behalf of the Institute and look forward to having him as part of our profession as his career develops.”

As well as taking full advantage of the opportunities available at Sunderland, Harry secured a 12-month placement in clinical biochemistry at the University Hospital of North Tees in his third year. He says it was an excellent learning experience, and even though there were challenges, the placement enhanced his employability.

He said: “Overall the placement was positive and informative. I completed my IBMS registration portfolio during my placement, this has enhanced my employment prospects and allows me to apply for HCPC registration immediately on completion of my degree.”

Harry now plans to work within the area of biomedicine, either within the NHS or industry. He also plans to return to higher education at some point to undertake a masters or PhD to further his research skills.

The Institute of Biomedical Science Presidents Prize is an award for graduates from IBMS accredited BSc Honours degree courses

The President's Prize of £100 plus certificate is awarded to one student graduating from an IBMS accredited BSc Hons programme who has achieved academic distinction in a particular year who is also a member of the Institute. They must be registered as a current member of the Institute at the time of the application and have achieved a first class honours degree.

TV doctor Chris Steele spent This Morning picking up a very special honour.

The medic returned to his North East roots to be made an Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Sunderland.

In his wide and varied career, Chris has led the national fight against smoking and even had his own cataract operation filmed for TV.

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Picking up his award, Chris said: "Sunderland has been a strong influence on my early life, as I went to school at St Aidan's in Sunderland.

"I never set out to get into TV. Richard and Judy were patients of mine, and they suggested me as This Morning’s GP. They asked me if i wanted the job and I said "I do not!"

“When you speak to people who are successful they all worked hard, and one of their opportunities became a lucky break. That was my lucky break.

"To the graduates today, I advise you to work hard, the harder you work the more successful you will become. It's important in life to make a difference. Sunderland made a difference to me and I urge you to make a difference too.”

In the early 1960s, schoolboy Chris used to make the short walk from St Aidan’s Grammar School in Sunderland - where he was a sixth-former – to the biology lab at the nearby girls’ school. There he would study A-level Biology, which at that time St Aidan’s didn’t offer.

That A-level was the key to getting into medical school, where he qualified as a doctor. Eventually he treated thousands of patients as a GP and he has also advised millions of viewers of ITV’s “This Morning” as the show’s resident doctor.

Chris left the region to study at Manchester University and took up his medical career in the North West, settling in Fallowfield, south Manchester. He worked there as a GP between 1970 and retirement in 2010, getting to know three generations in many families.

As part of his work, Chris ran Smokers Clinics in hospital and became recognised as an expert on getting off nicotine addiction, giving lectures in many countries. In the 1980s he also challenged the Department of Health’s refusal to allow nicotine gum on prescription. It was classed as a “borderline substance”, but today the gum and other products are available on prescription.

Dr Steele believes this is his most rewarding achievement. It is widely appreciated by ex-smokers and their loved ones. The publicity surrounding his campaign led to an invitation to be the studio doctor on the “This Morning” programme with presenters Richard and Judy. He was also the couple’s GP. Since then he has helped an unknowable number of viewers to cope with their own worries, to seek the right kind of help and get life-improving treatment for themselves and their families.

Chris’ TV work widens public knowledge about symptoms, the nature of diseases, procedures and medical care. For example, it has included live on-air examinations for breast, testicle and prostate problems. Two years ago he let the ITV cameras in to film his own operation to remove cataracts.

The TV slot began as a three-month idea but in September the programme will celebrate 30 years of his participation. He has won many awards for medical journalism and in 2010 was given an MBE for services to medicine and broadcasting.

He has broken some of the biggest stories in UK news but now journalist Kevin Maguire is making headlines of his own.

In a career-spanning 30 years, Kevin Maguire has made his way through an ever-changing journalistic landscape to become associate editor of the Mirror.

But for one day only it was Kevin in the spotlight as he returned to his native North East to be made an Honorary Doctor of Arts at the University of Sunderland.

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The South Shields-born TV pundit has already forged strong links with the University as a Visiting Professor of Journalism.

Receiving his honorary degree at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday, Kevin said: “It’s been an incredible honour to receive this accolade - and what tops it off is that it was given here at the home of Sunderland AFC.

“To get the chance to see the journalists of the future starting off on their careers has been a real privilege. I wish them all good luck.”

Born on September 20, 1960, Kevin was one of six children. His father, John, worked at Westoe pit, while his mother, Jennie, was a cleaner and biscuit factory worker.

Family and school holidays were spent, every year, at South Shields beach where there would be the annual dip in the freezing North Sea before lunch of sandy chip butties and pop.

A pupil at Harton School, Kevin had a strong North East work ethic that led to him studying politics at the University of York before a one-year journalism postgraduate diploma at Cardiff University.

Currently, Kevin is associate editor of, and political columnist at, the Mirror. He previously served as chief reporter at The Guardian and was labour correspondent for The Daily TelegraphA regular on television and radio, he also used to host his own programme on talk radio station LBC 97.3. His regular news-review slots on Good Morning Britain and Sky News sees him sparring with journo pal Andrew “Tory Boy” Pierce.

Kevin’s 155,000 followers on Twitter are treated to daily rants covering everything from Brexit to Kim Jong-un, and interspersing them all is a running commentary on his beloved SAFC, of which he is a lifelong supporter.

A profile once described our guest as the “mischief man of media”, so does he still see himself as that?

Kevin’s response.....”I might be addicted to mischief, but I intend to cause trouble for the powerful who are guilty of sharp practice, corruption, hypocrisy and making the lives of less powerful people miserable.....I won’t pretend it isn’t fun.”

From student to sailor

No sooner had she flung her mortarboard in the air at graduation, Ellie Lyall was packing her bag for the adventure of a lifetime.

While her friends celebrated graduating from the University of Sunderland with a night on the tiles, Ellie, 21, was planning a day on the waves.

The Journalism student, who attended her graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday, was picked to be the University’s Sail Training Ambassador 2018 for the Tall Ships Races.

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It means it’s a hectic few days for Ellie, of Ellington, Northumberland, who will be boarding the Lord Nelson ship next week as Sunderland hosts the Tall Ships extravaganza.

Ellie, who had mum, Julie, and dad, Alan, watching her graduate, said: “My course tutor, Alistair Robinson, put me forward to be the Sailing Ambassador. At first I didn’t know what to think. I mean, I’d never sailed before.

“But then I just embraced the challenge and thought to myself ‘you can do this’.

“Now, I feel really honoured and I’ve spent the past year training at Sunderland Yacht Club, getting myself ready for what I’m sure will be the adventure of a lifetime.”

Ellie will be part of the Lord Nelson crew making the crossing to Esbjerg in Denmark when the ships leave Wearside on July 14.

She said: “It certainly is an unusual way of celebrating your graduation. I guess it’s not the traditional going out and having a few drinks way of marking the occasion.

Ellie already has a flight booked back from Denmark for July 20. And they the world is her oyster.

She said: “I’m looking forward to starting my career in journalism and seeing what the next few years bring me.”

““Being an Ambassador has given me opportunities I never in a million years imagined myself taking up when I first enrolled at the University in 2015.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sunderland and I’ve learned so much when I look back over the last three years.”

An estimated 80 ships will arrive in the city on 11 July for the Tall Ships Races, with the entrance promising to be a feast for the eyes for spectators.

The following day, on 12 July, the crews will parade from the Port of Sunderland, along the Wear, as a thank you to their host city.

The ships will close to the public on Friday, 14 July as they make the final preparations for the next leg of their voyage – and Ellie will be on-board ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Alistair Robinson, Programme Leader for Journalism at the University of Sunderland, said: “Ellie was chosen in her first year at the university to be an Ambassador because she was already showing real promise as a student and as a journalist.

“It’s been a pleasure to see that potential develop since then. She brings such a sense of commitment and purpose to her journalism and to her studies in general. She is a great ambassador for the University and the Tall Ships.”

Graduation ceremonies from the University of Sunderland are happening this week and Monday, 9 July and Tuesday, 10 July.

For more information on the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland visit here

Twin’s peak

Almost everything about these sisters is identical – except their degrees.

Twins Anastasia and Anna Manentzou are celebrating graduating from the University of Sunderland today.

The 22-year-olds arrived on Wearside three years ago from their home in Cyprus after both applying to study in the city.

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The pair were determined to stay together and wanted to find a city university that could accommodate both their study areas; Fine Art for Anastasia and Psychology for Anna.

Now, the pair, watched on by family and friends who have jetted in all the way from their home in Larnaca City, have officially received their degrees and are preparing for a new chapter in their lives.

Anastasia said: “Our older brother, Socrates, had studied at the University so we wanted all the family to stay together.

“It’s been an amazing three years and the city has been perfect for us. We live really close to the centre and have both enjoyed our degrees.”

So do people often get confused over which sister is which?

“Yes, but we’ve had that our whole lives,” said Anna. “Were not actually identical, believe it or not, but everyone thinks that we are.”

Now they have finished their programmes, the twins are waving goodbye to Wearside.

While Anna will be returning to her homeland to study for an MA, Anastasia is not yet sure what her next step will be.

She added: “I will be going home for the holidays but then would like to do something around the psychology of art.”

Anastasia recently won praise for her final year Degree Show which included paintings and sculptures based around an environmental theme.

Whatever the future holds, the girls say they have created many happy memories of their time in Sunderland

Anna added: “It’s been amazing; we’ve loved every minute.”

Graduations ceremonies involving University of Sunderland students are happening all this week and on Monday, 9 July and Tuesday, 10 July at the Stadium of Light.

He has designed clothes for the likes of Lady Gaga and Rhianna but internationally acclaimed designer Gareth Pugh has returned to his roots this week.

During the past 15 years, Gareth Pugh’s work has graced the catwalks of the world, the big screen, international ballets and stage shows.

Not bad for a lad from Grangetown in Sunderland.

Now, Gareth has returned to Wearside to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Sunderland.

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Gareth said: "Being invited to come back home where all my family still live, is such an amazing honour for me. Family is one of the most important things that anyone can have, they help ground you. It’s that idea of knowing someone always has your back and that you have the support that you have when you need it.

“My mum has a lot of sisters, and they were very strong female role models, so this was very good schooling for me. I guess now in my own work I always think of them in a lot of the clothes that we design, which I create almost as modern armour. It’s that idea of arming women with the necessary tools in order to own that space they want to live in.

“To be honoured by The University of Sunderland has made this an incredibly special day."

It was his mum’s old sewing machine that Gareth used to make the clothes for his finals at Central St Martin’s, in London, for his Womenswear BA Fashion in 2003.

A look from his graduate collection soon featured on the cover of Dazed & Confused magazine and within two years his work appeared at London Fashion Week as part of the Fashion East group show.

Two years later his first solo show in London was seen and admired by Vogue editor Anna Wintour and he was invited to be part of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Fashion-In-Motion series. He won the prestigious French ANDAM Fashion Award in 2008, leading to his first show in Paris, where he presented his collections for the next seven years.

Gareth’s clothes have been described as wearable sculptures and he continues to surprise both fans and critics.

For his latest Spring Collection of he replaced a traditional catwalk with a film collaboration with the celebrated image-maker Nick Knight. Vogue magazine reported on his “impressive” sculptural coats, column gowns and extraordinary “metallic looks”, which did the “nowadays vanishingly rare thing in fashion of positing a vision of style’s future.”

This week, the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle opens an exhibition “Catwalking” of pictures by the Tyneside-born fashion photographer Chris Moore, which showcases garments by Gareth and other designers.  

Meanwhile, over in New York, Gareth’s work currently features in the Costume Institute’s summer exhibition ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

He is currently working on several upcoming projects, including a major collaboration with the New York City Ballet for September, as well as his show at London Fashion Week.

Graduation ceremonies from the University of Sunderland are happening this week and Monday, 9 July and Tuesday, 10 July.

Visualise your future

The Robson Visual Arts Masters Awards provide a £1,000 scholarship opportunity to students with a firm offer for 2018-19 studying:

- MA Glass & Ceramics

- MA Design

- MA Photography

- MA Fine Art

One scholarship is available to each subject area and awarded in line with specific criteria. Applications close noon on Friday 7 September.

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Returning students may also be eligible for an alumni postgraduate fee discount – and Postgraduate tuition fee loans are also available for students commencing study in 2018/19 - read more information here:

Master Your Future

For further information and to discuss your proposal, please contact the relevant Programme Leader for your subject area.


Contact the University of Sunderland Development Office Team on 0191 515 3664 development.office@sunderland.ac.uk

*Applications which meet the scholarship criteria are not guaranteed as successful; funding is allocated each term and the Committee's decision is final


Let's dance...

From street dance to ballet, the University has teamed up with Dance City to offer new qualifications for the superstars of tomorrow.

The two North East institutions are keen to set trends and offer students the chance to express themselves with creativity and flair.

It is also hoped that by collaborating to offer dance training at such a high level, the partnership will play a vital role in retaining dance talent within the North East.

Two of the courses will be hosted at the Fire Station Arts Centre in Sunderland.

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Newcastle and Sunderland-based Dance City has joined forces with the University to offer a BA (Hons) in Professional Dance and MAs in Advanced Dance Performance and Advanced Professional Practice (Dance).

The courses will be part of The Learning Academy at Dance City which offers formal, professional dance training all within a venue where professionals, students and the wider community mingle together – a unique offering in dance education.

Anthony Baker, CEO and artistic director, Dance City, said: “We are very happy to be collaborating with the University of Sunderland as our accreditation partner as we bring our higher education program in-house at Dance City.

“One of our main aims is for the region to retain its talent and being able to offer such high quality and unique training opportunities to the North East is a huge achievement and a step closer to being able to achieve our goal.

 “Our plans for the future are all about ensuring that people in the region have the same or even better cultural opportunities as the rest of the country. With this news we are the only place in the country where training, performance and outreach all take place under the same roof, offering a totally different learning environment and experience to other dance courses.”

Professor Arabella Plouviez, Academic Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland, said: “This collaboration between Dance City and my faculty provides a really innovative new relationship that will benefit students.

“Dance City is uniquely positioned to provide a truly professionally focused set of programmes in dance and that fits well with our priorities and our other subject areas across art and design, performance and media.”

 The courses are practically focused and have a strong emphasis on developing dance technique.

Students will spend up to 75% of their study time in the dance studio, undergoing rigorous technical training comparable to any professional company.

The BA (Hons) in Professional Dance will begin this September and be delivered at Dance City’s Newcastle site. The MA in Advanced Dance Performance will start in September 2019, while the MA in Advanced Professional Practice (Dance) will begin in January 2019 both at the Sunderland site, based in The Fire Station Arts Centre.

The course celebrates all aspects of dance and students will be encouraged to become versatile professionals, able to achieve long-term careers in different avenues of dance.

Study will be divided into three focused areas: professional practice, education and management. These modules will develop abilities and physical understanding of accurate and artistic dance technique. Students will cover a wide range of classical and contemporary styles including ballet, contemporary, urban/street, jazz and world.

Teaching methods include a mixture of classroom, practical work and workshops.

Susan Edgar, the recently appointed Head of the School of Education, has been named a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Senior Fellowship status is awarded against the UK Professional Standards Framework, and appointed to academics in higher education who can demonstrate a thorough understanding of effective approaches to teaching and learning support as a key contribution to high quality student learning.

The Professional Standards Framework is now widely used globally with HEA fellows in Australasia, the Far East, Europe and North and South America.

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The University recently validated a dialogic route to Senior Fellowship status, with assessment via a viva method with a panel including an external examiner alongside a submission of evidence. Susan is the first academic in the University to be assessed via this method.

The fellowship not only recognises that staff are working to a specific standard, in terms of their teaching and how they facilitate learning, but it also allows for benchmarking of practice.

Susan was formerly a Principal Lecturer and Primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) lead before she was appointed Head of School earlier this year. Before joining the University of Sunderland she worked for both the Open University and Northumbria University. She has extensive experience in the sector, including holding a Head Teacher position before moving into HE.

Susan said: “The HEA Senior Fellowship by dialogic route has given me the opportunity to reflect on and share my experience of leadership in the School of Education, how this has impacted on staff, and the consequent impact on the student journey. I am thrilled to be the first to be awarded HEA Senior Fellowship status by this route and now hope this will be the impetus for my colleagues in the School of Education to follow.”

Dr Lynne McKenna, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, commented: “This success demonstrates Susan’s professional capability, leadership and vision and her ability to take the School of Education to the next phase.”



Role of a Senior Fellow:

Senior Fellows of the Higher Education Academy is given to experienced member of staff able to demonstrate impact and influence on other colleagues through leading, managing or organising programmes, subjects and/or disciplinary areas. Being appointed a SFHEA demonstrates:

  • Consolidation of your personal development and evidence of influencing other colleagues’ professional practice in your higher education career;
  • Demonstrating your commitment to teaching, learning and the student experience, through engagement in a practical process that encourages research, reflection and development;
  • A Senior Fellowship is increasingly sought by employers across the education sector as a condition of appointment and promotion for management and leadership positions;
  • The SFHEA award is recognised and valued by a growing number of international institutions.
The rise of the vegan

A new generation of vegans are making waves across the UK as thousands switch to a plant-based diet.

But why?

Big-name supermarkets are now on-board offering products that suit a vegan-lifestyle, with Waitrose recently launching a dedicated vegan section and Iceland reporting an increase in plant-based food sales of 10% in 12 months.

There are estimated to be around 540,000 vegans in the country.

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This weekend Tyneside will host the Newcastle Vegan Festival. Now in its fifth year, the Festival is open in The Assembly Rooms, Fenkle Street, between 10.30am and 4.30pm on Sunday, July 1.

Now a University of Sunderland lecturer and vegan campaigner has told how social media is playing a critical role in the vegan revolution and the changing eating habits of a widening demographic.

Dr Lockwood said: “Without a doubt social media has transformed the way people think about food—and it isn’t just the Millennials. The over-55s are the second-biggest demographic in terms of Facebook users this year.

“But the sheer amount of information, imagery and community around vegan and vegetarian foods online mean that everyone is learning how much healthier for the body and the planet a plant-based diet has become.”

According to Dr Lockwood, the rise in flexitarian diets – a plant-based diet which allows occasional meat dishes - shows just how much people are becoming conscious of the impact of their diets on their health and on the planet.

Films such as Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives, readily available online or on Netflix, are also believed to be responsible for changing people’s relationship to what they eat.

Dr Lockwood said: “There’s more media coverage every day showing that the biggest impact people can have individually on the environment is by choosing to ditch meat and dairy from their diets.

“Some people aren’t willing to do that every day and become vegan, but most people do care about the environment and want to do their bit.

“But for the Millennial generation and younger, a vegan lifestyle just makes more sense. Those under 30 are far less likely to associate with older generational labels such as completely masculine or completely feminine, or to ascribe to 20th century ideas of a job for life, or that our relations with animals or the planet need to be based on exploitation.

“For more and more young people the idea that we need to consume meat and dairy to be health or normal just doesn’t make sense in their well-informed, social media led, fluid sense of who they are in the world.”

Social media influencers are believed to have played a significant part in the rise of the vegan in a number of ways:

  • #vegan has had more than 61 million posts listed on Instagram
  • The number of Google searches for veganism has spiked in recent years
  • According to Google, in 2008, ‘veganism’ had a popularity rating of just 17 out of 100 – 10 years later this has increased to 88.
  • Celebrities like Ariana Grande – who has more than 56million followers on twitter don’t eat animal products

The growing trend, according to Dr Lockwood, reflects a change in young people’s attitudes towards the environment.

Dr Lockwood added: “When young people really care about the environment, then they tend to stop eating animals too. That’s because they know the main cause of climate change, ocean pollution, deforestation, and water use, is animal agriculture.

“That information isn’t hard to find—it’s right in front of us. We should all be inspired by young people making these changes—and by the trends that Waitrose, Iceland and the other supermarkets are following.”

In January this year, more than 168,000 people pledged to go vegan for the month, under the Veganuary campaign.

The benefits of a vegan diet

Nutritional value

Vegan diets are packed full of essential nutrients but it’s important people still consume the right amount of protein in the absence of meat.

Disease prevention

Due to the fact that they contain fewer saturated fats, vegan diets have been shown to reduce heart disease risk and what’s more, data shows conclusively that vegans and vegetarians suffer from fewer diseases caused by a modern Western diet.

Weight loss

A bonus to sticking to a vegan diet is the positive effect it has on weight. Vegans typically weigh less as a result of a diet comprised of fewer calories in the form of grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Protecting the environment

A plant-based diet is better for the planet as it requires much less energy and farmland to feed a vegan. The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment– from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. Protecting the environment is beneficial to us all. 

Postgraduate Open Day

Thursday 19 July, 3pm-6.30pm - Sciences Complex, City Campus

Come along to our Postgraduate Open Day to see what Sunderland has to offer.

It's never been more affordable to advance your career with a postgraduate course – and as a graduate of the University of Sunderland you may be eligible for 20 per cent off your course fees* – which we will pay you back directly into your bank account.

Postgraduate study can help you increase your earnings and secure your dream job.

Why study with US?

  • Research at Sunderland has been classified as ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ in 13 academic areas.
  • £10,000 loans are available for Home/EU students.

Continue your journey at: www.sunderland.ac.uk/masteryourfuture/

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*Eligible courses included MSc, LLM, MBA, MPhil, PhD - PGCEs are not eligible. The 20% money back offer applies to Home/EU students - international students will receive 20% off your course fee when you enrol.