Sunderland University ‘best in North East’, says survey

Sunderland University students are celebrating after the uni was awarded "Best Student Experience" for the second year running.
Sunderland University students are celebrating after the uni was awarded "Best Student Experience" for the second year running.
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WEARSIDE students are getting a top education, according to a respected league table.

Sunderland University has been ranked the best new university in the North East for the second year running, in the Guardian University Guide 2012.

It is also fourth nationally in the new universities in the guide, and is one of only four post-1992 to break into the top 50 rankings.

Sunderland is now at 48th place, up two spots from last year.

Durham University has moved up from 17th to eighth.

The accolade comes after Sunderland University announced plans to charge students between £7,000 and £8,500 a year in tuition fees, under a three-tier system.

Vice Chancellor Peter Fidler said: “The higher education sector is facing a challenging time with the Government-enforced tuition fees rise, and substantial cut to the teaching grant.

“However, Sunderland has been working hard over the past two years to ensure it is well placed to deal with what pressures may lay ahead. “Accolades like the Times Higher Student Experience Award 2010, and today’s ranking in the Guardian, are testimony to that hard work.”

He added: “Not only do Sunderland students receive a very good higher education – we have the highest possible quality ratings – they also receive the life skills and work experience that makes them very attractive to employers.

“The Guardian University Guide understands very well the experience of a modern day student, so it is extremely reassuring to know that we are attuned to their expectations and needs.”

Areas such as assessment, teaching quality, career prospects and staff-student ratio were used to create the guide.

Professor Fidler said student feedback played a large part in how the rankings were put together.

He said the National Student Survey – which measures student satisfaction – was used extensively, and another important area was employability.

The university has invested heavily in its facilities in recent years, with £130million spent “ensuring its facilities meet the needs of the modern-day student.”

Recent developments include the £12million CitySpace sports building and the £8.5million Sciences Complex, at the Chester Road City Campus.

University chiefs are still waiting to have their tuition fee proposals approved by a Government agency.

Sunderland University unveiled a three-tier system of tuition fees in April, which make it among the cheapest in the North East.

Courses would start at £7,000 per year for a foundation degree, £7,800 for cheaper-to-run degrees and £8,500 for costly lab-based courses.

There will also be a £10million support package to help less-well-off students.

The proposals will leave the average student studying for three years with at least £21,800 worth of debt.

The plans must now be approved by the Office for Fair Access.

A decision is expected in the summer, and further details of Sunderland’s proposals will be then be released.

Durham and Newcastle plan to charge the maximum £9,000 per year. Northumbria and Teesside universities want to charge £8,500.