The University of Sunderland today launches a new scheme designed to boost the career opportunities of thousands of workers

The scheme aims to retrain, reskill, and refocus workers who have been furloughed, made redundant, or are in danger of losing their jobs. And, by developing high-level skills in the workforce, the scheme will support businesses as they struggle to adapt to the post-Covid economy.

The University is offering to reduce the cost of course fees for specified postgraduate programmes by 20%.

Who is the scheme open to?

We invite applications from people who have been furloughed by their current employer at any point since March 2020; anyone who has been made redundant by their employer since March 2020; or those told by their current employer that their role is ‘at risk’ and who are likely to be made redundant.

Can anyone in the UK apply for the scheme?

Eligible students include those who have their main residential address in the North East, those who are currently working within the region, or those who have just lost – or been furloughed – from a job in the North East.

So what kind of programmes are on offer?

Any full, postgraduate, taught Master’s programme of study, resulting in the following awards: Master of Art (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Law (LLM) or Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Any postgraduate taught programme of study resulting in the awarding of a Postgraduate Diploma.

Any postgraduate taught programme of study resulting in the awarding of a Postgraduate Certificate.

Any postgraduate top-up Master’s programme or Independent Learners’ programmes.

Eligible courses must have a start date between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021.

Students are required to meet the specific entry criteria for each course. These can be found on the course pages on our website:

For more information, including what is on offer and terms and conditions, visit here.

Sounds good? How do I apply?

Please email the Scholarships team at with your applicant ID and evidence from your current or former employer.

For further information please contact the Helpline on 0191 515 3000 or email:


Francesca Carey, Director of Home Student Recruitment, said: “The University has a long tradition of partnering with industry in the North East.

“We take our role as a civic institution seriously, and want to go as far as we can to support local people and businesses within the region at a challenging time.

“We know that all employers are facing difficult staffing decisions; our new scheme, Skills Boost North East, seeks to support workers to meet the demands and challenges of what could be a very different emerging employment market.”

Now, they are aiming to help support the stability of the region, by offering affordable and relevant opportunities for local employees to upskill, at a time when the employment market might not offer a viable alternative.

Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism at the University, said: “The end of the furlough scheme will be a real crunch point and many organisations may need to downsize and change their focus to survive in the future.

“Individuals will need to develop new skills to adapt to this, so universities and colleges have an important part to play in re-skilling the workforce and giving students the future they deserve.

“In light of the economic challenges we have developed the Skills Boost scheme to suit the needs of those in the region who have recently been furloughed or now find themselves out of – or at risk of being out of – work.

“Many of our postgraduate programmes are also eligible for financial support from the government-backed postgraduate loans scheme. In many cases, this support would cover tuition fees, whilst also allowing a contribution to living expenses; it is likely that people can study and work to rebuild their career with supplementary income too, for example whilst working part-time.

“At the end of the programme, students will have gained new knowledge and skills and placed themselves in a better position for their career prospects going forward.”

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