The new five-year plan, entitled ‘We are the tomorrow makers’, was highlighted as a great example of our how progressive universities should be positioning themselves in this challenging and fast moving global environment.
The plan was launched in London, and in Parliament in particular because it is not only relevant to the North-East but to the UK as a whole and fits comfortably with the Government’s ambitions for social mobility; its focus on skills, leadership and the creation of knowledge; the importance it places on regional anchor organisations; and its global aspirations for ‘brand UK’.
The launch was supported by a number of key speakers, including former education secretary Baroness Morris of Yardley, Arts Council England Chair and ITV Chair Sir Peter Bazelgette, ITV newsreader Alastair Stewart and Times Higher Education Editor John Gill. All highlighted the importance of universities like Sunderland to the UK’s society, economy and culture.
University of Sunderland Vice-Chancellor, Shirley Atkinson, said: “After widespread consultation, with staff, students and many of our external partners, we know we have a highly relevant set of ambitions to take us forward over the next five years. It is reassuring that yesterday we heard from people who we regard highly, not only praising the plan for its boldness and relevance, but who want to support its delivery. That gives us tremendous confidence heading into an ever challenging higher education environment.
Speaking at the launch, former Education Secretary and former Culture Secretary, Estelle Morris, said: “The University of Sunderland’s great strength is that it is fleet of foot; it’s flexible and it adapts naturally to changing circumstances. The University is very relevant – relevant to its city, relevant to its past, to its present and absolutely relevant to its future. Having seen it at close quarters I am in no doubt whatever it will achieve its ambitions over the next five years.”
Paul Callaghan, Chairman of the University’s Board of Governors added: “In conversations I’ve had with business groups and stakeholders about the University’s new plan it’s clear that they want this University to succeed, they understand how important it is in the city, in the region and nationally.
“Businesses like mine need the brightest and best graduates to grow and that’s what we get from the University of Sunderland and that’s allowed us to grow our global business from the city. With the decline in the power, influence and resource of local authorities in places like Sunderland the Universities are having to take on the responsibility of determining the future of their place. It’s not a burden – we welcome it, the ability to shape the place in which we are situated. We become the people who set the vision, we become the catalyst. We are the game changers and the place shapers and I’m proud to be Chairman of this University.”
ITV news presenter, Alastair Stewart, who has worked closely with the University, said: “This University will undoubtedly achieve its ambitions because it knows how to produce graduates who, as well as being academically equipped, are creative thinkers, problem solvers, leaders, who are aware of their environment. It is doing this already. This new Strategic Plan, which is a real statement of intent, will deliver these graduates across all sectors for many years to come.”
University of Sunderland Chancellor, Steve Cram, concluded: “Echoing the words of our Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson, we must not be afraid to focus on the things that we are good at. Looking at our strengths, looking at our traditions and being open to the new things out there. Being inclusive, being open to what is possible and offering opportunities to young people who want to go out into the world and be successful.
“We can only do that if we have great plan, we have to be aware of our environment, we have to be aware of our competitors and of the political, cultural and social changes happening in the world. This plan is about the future, we’re confident about our ability to deliver on it.”