Sunderland Shines

27 June 2017

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

The TEF, introduced by Government provides prospective students with the clear information they need to make informed choices about where to study and encourages teaching and learning excellence across the UK.

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.

“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, “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 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.”

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

Chair of Governors, Paul Callaghan CBE said, “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.”

“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.”

The TEF awards are 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.

“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.”

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