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Sunderland Shines


Jun 2, 2017

Confirmed yesterday (Thursday 22 June) the University of Sunderland has received a coveted ‘Silver’ award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), ranking it alongside other high-performing Universities such as York, Warwick, Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol and close neighbour Durham.

The TEF has been introduced by Government to provide prospective students with the clear information they need to make informed choices about where to study. This new measure recognises and rewards excellent learning and teaching in higher education.

On receiving the result the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Shirley Atkinson commented: “We are delighted that the panel of assessors has awarded our learning and teaching provision as Silver. We are particularly pleased that they highlighted the excellent outcomes our students achieve thanks to our strong relationships with employers, enabling our graduates to begin their careers with relevant work-ready knowledge and skills. We know that we are delivering excellent research and practice-informed teaching to all of our students and that this is having a tangible impact on our graduates and the wider city and region.

“I’d like to thank all of our staff for their continued commitment to excellence and for supporting our students to achieve their ambitions.”

Professor Michael Young, Deputy Vice-Chancellor said: “This really is a fantastic boost for all our staff as it recognises the consistent work they do to support our students to reach their potential, whatever their circumstances. From providing regular and useful feedback, to working with employers on curriculum content, we are ensuring that our graduates have the skills and behaviours that businesses need to thrive.”

“We know that our students benefit hugely from being taught by lecturers actively engaged in research – so it was gratifying that the judges applauded our world-leading research into pedagogical practice, i.e. how we teach and how students learn. I’m very proud of our academic community and their commitment to continuous professional development and the benefit of this to our students – which the panel also recognised. I’d like to thank them for their commitment to excellence, this really shone through in our submission and now in the result too.”

Dr Rob Trimble, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Students, added: “It is gratifying to see the TEF panel note our high levels of student satisfaction with teaching and academic support and the work we do to tailor each student’s experience to their needs. As the TEF Panel mentioned in their summing up – this results in our students being highly satisfied with the teaching, academic support and feedback they receive and – ultimately – in the achievement of outcomes.”

Harry Chirnside President-elect of the University of Sunderland Students’ Union said: “To have Sunderland rewarded and recognised for their outstanding academic teaching highlights the importance of this institution in successfully widening participation. This Silver award proves that the University of Sunderland is not only an anchor institute within the North East but also as a nationwide competitor for quality Higher Education provision.”

The panel considered all the information in the University of Sunderland’s submission in relation to the TEF criteria and its judgement reflects in particular, evidence of:

  • Excellent engagement with employers in course development, which enables students to acquire the knowledge, skills and attributes valued by employers
  • Exposure of students to professional practice through engagement with industrial and community partners, which enriches the learning environment
  • Students’ academic experiences which are tailored to the individual, with personalised support available for all students and focused support for students with specific needs
  • A culture that facilitates excellent teaching through a comprehensive programme of professional development and funding commitments to support pedagogical research

Commenting on the University’s recognition for its excellent engagement with employers on course development,Karen Marshall, Apprentice, Education and Engagement Lead at Accenture, said: “We want graduates capable of practical application of technical skills and the University of Sunderland gives us that. What you need is staff with the right skills to be able to grow your business, what employers don’t want is a one size fits all approach, we need something that matches our requirements and we’ve had lots of productive conversations with the University of Sunderland and they have designed, developed and moulded a course that is perfect for our requirements at Accenture, to fit our business needs.”

Chair of Governors, Paul Callaghan CBE commented: “I am delighted with this recognition of the University’s success in giving our students such a great educational experience and producing graduates of such high quality. As a member of the North East’s business community, I know the tremendous support the University receives from so many of our businesses and I am certain they will also be very pleased to see this result as they understand the university’s importance to Sunderland, to the region and to the UK.”

“Employing over 350 people, our businesses in the Leighton Group – headquartered in Sunderland and with offices throughout the world – need to recruit the brightest and best graduates and that is what we get from the University of Sunderland and I know many other businesses do the same.”

“The University of Sunderland plays a key role in shaping this city and this region. It helps set the vision for the future and has become the catalyst for positive economic and social change. The initiatives the University is leading are game-changing for this city and to have our impact recognised with this silver accreditation is a great endorsement and I am immensely proud of all of the staff that contributed to this success.”

More on the Teaching Excellence Framework

The results of the Teaching Excellence Framework provide a new picture of excellence in teaching and learning in UK higher education.

The results and the underlying evidence will help students thinking about which university or college to apply to for autumn 2018, and encourage teaching and learning excellence across the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) was introduced by the Government to build evidence about the performance of the UK’s world-class higher education sector, complementing the existing Research Excellence Framework with an analysis of teaching and learning outcomes.

Universities, colleges and alternative providers of higher education voluntarily took part in the TEF. Each provider was rated Gold, Silver or Bronze, or received a Provisional award where there was not enough data for a full assessment.

The TEF awards were decided by an independent panel of experts including academics, students and employer representatives. Drawing on national data, and evidence submitted by each university or college, the TEF measures excellence in three areas: teaching quality, the learning environment and the educational and professional outcomes achieved by students.

Professor Chris Husbands, Chair of the TEF assessment panel and Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The Teaching Excellence Framework results offer – for the first time – an overview of teaching excellence across the entire UK higher education sector. It has been a privilege to chair this ambitious and ground-breaking assessment.

“Alongside the headline results, we are publishing all the data and submissions, and statements of the assessors’ findings. Taken together, this is a set of material on teaching excellence which goes further than has been possible for any other university system in the world.”

Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said: “Students invest significant amounts of time and money in their higher education. They rightly expect a high-quality learning experience and outcomes that reflect their potential. The UK already has a high bar for quality and standards, which all universities and colleges must meet. But the TEF judges excellence above and beyond this, clearly showing the highest levels across the sector.

“The TEF measures the things that students themselves say they care about: high-quality, engaged teaching and a supportive, stimulating learning environment which equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their potential, and then to progress to a good job or further study.”

The TEF results and the evidence used in the assessment can be found at www.hefce.ac.uk. The TEF awards will also be published on Unistats and the UCAS website, alongside other information, to help inform prospective students’ choices.


By Emily