AN awards celebration has been held for the first time to recognise the achievements of short-course students at the University of Sunderland.
The first academic presentation was held in the city for students on short courses in substance misuse and offender health.
Professor Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford, an internationally-renowned expert in community health issues, presented certificates to the adult learners who had completed the Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Drug and Alcohol Studies, or one of the modular short courses in Substance Misuse or Offender Health.
Lord Patel, a former social worker with a distinguished record for his work across a range of issues from mental health, drugs and alcohol use to crime and regeneration, also gave a speech during the ceremony at the Sciences Complex.
Lord Patel said: “I have been impressed with Sunderland University’s commitment to these adult students and for delivering qualifications on the use and misuse of drugs and alcohol, which will give them a better understanding of the problems, the interventions and tools which are available to them.
“Drug and alcohol misuse is one of the greatest health challenges that we face today.
“It impacts on patients, their families, and the community, and these students, who may go onto working within the substance misuse sector, will have a vital role to play in helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community with a range of complex needs including mental health issues.”
Gez Bevan, senior lecturer in the university’s health team and programme leader, said: “We saw this awards-giving ceremony as an opportunity to publicly recognise the achievements of our students who have successfully completed these short courses, especially since their awards sit outside the traditional graduation ceremony.
“For many of the students this is their first experience of higher education and for them a real achievement.
“We are delighted that Lord Patel was able to attend our first ceremony and present the students with their certificates.
“Many have used the short courses as a progression point in their own professions, some have used the experience towards a career change, while others volunteering within the substance misuse service see the course as putting their work on a formal setting.”