Sunderland University’s impressive record of encouraging and supporting older students has seen it shortlisted for a national award.
Sunderland has made the shortlist for the Student Diversity and Widening Participation Category of The Guardian University Awards 2017.
Run by The Guardian newspaper, these awards aim to highlight exceptional work by UK universities, and to share best practice, success and imaginative solutions to the challenges facing the higher education sector.
The Student Diversity and Widening Participation Category rewards initiatives that have helped to increase the numbers of ‘non-traditional’ or disadvantaged students entering universities, such as students with disabilities, students from low-income families and students from certain ethnic groups.
Sunderland’s submission relates to the university’s efforts to encourage mature students to return to learning. The University of Sunderland has an impressive track record of attracting mature learners – who are often seen as being highly motivated and committed – and has developed a wide range of support services targeted at their needs.
The university has put a number of measures in place to encourage and support mature students:
During the student selection process, all the students’ previous study experience and the work-related skills they have acquired are taken into account. This enables the university to be flexible about entry requirements.
Extended programmes are available for students who want to do a foundation year course before they embark on their degrees.
Foundation courses are available at the university’s partner colleges. These courses are supported by ‘gateways’ within the colleges, which are staffed by university employees.
Many of the University of Sunderland’s student ambassadors are returners to learning.
The university’s assistant director of marketing and recruitment, Leslie Griffin, said, “The University of Sunderland has been one of the leading institutions for 25 years in widening participation, building social capital and building confidence in our students.”
“We’ve delivered opportunities to people of all ages and backgrounds and provided them with the support to reach their potential.”
“We’re delighted that our hard work to develop and deliver an outreach programme, which has increased participation in university among mature learners, has been recognised.”
“Being shortlisted for a Guardian University Award is brilliant news for the team and I’m very proud of everyone involved, and of the students who have made a great success of entering higher education later in life.”
The finalists will be announced at a ceremony in London on March 29th.