The University of Sunderland is the beating heart of the city. Almost £130m has been invested in the university in recent years, providing a £12m sports facility, a £14m science complex and the North East’s first digital fabrication laboratory, among other things. On top of that, the institution operates campuses in London and Hong Kong. The latter helps to explain the high number of international students enrolled at the university (37%) – those most likely to require high quality private rental accommodation during their stay. Overall, more than 93% of students in Sunderland enter employment or further studies within six months of graduating.
However, it is not accurate to say that this is a city reliant on its university. In reality, the local industries are strong and have a strong working relationship with the University of Sunderland which strengthens both. The city is set to receive approximately £1.5bn of investment by 2024 which will be targeted in sectors as diverse as advanced manufacturing, financial services, technology and logistics.
Some of the most important investments in Sunderland are as follows:
Port of Sunderland
The Port of Sunderland is one of the largest ports in the UK and is owned municipally for the benefit of the city. Lying just five minutes from the open sea, and facing into several major European shipping lanes, the Port is a true gateway between the city and the world. It makes Sunderland incredibly attractive to major businesses who need industrial and manufacturing expertise in a place where they can easily ship their products around the world.
In addition to shipping out to the world, the Port of Sunderland is a multi-modal hub which is connected to the national mainline railway, allowing parts and materials to go to and from the Port efficiently without relying on trucks and roads. The Port also plays a vital role in the expansion of renewable energy provision, particularly with regard to the offshore wind farms being constructed at Dogger Bank and Hornsea. Being a destination for offshore renewable energy companies brings highly skilled jobs to Sunderland and attracts skilled workers and graduates.
International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP)
The IAMP is a 150-hectare, nationally significant development that will create an engineering and manufacturing hub in Sunderland and South Tyneside. It will be the natural home for major businesses in the automotive industry as Nissan, the region’s major employer, seeks to build a supply chain in the same area as its factories.
Having been designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project by the government, the potential impact of the IAMP is clear. With excellent transport links to the Port of Sunderland, it is predicted that the development will create 7,000 new jobs in the region over the next decade. By combining Sunderland’s traditional strengths of shipping and manufacturing, the IAMP will allow the city to compete on a global stage.
City centre regeneration
Sunderland city centre is undergoing a series of redevelopment projects which are making it an even better place to live. £2m of improvement works have been completed on High Street West and Bridge Street, in addition to further work on a public square to the front of the old fire station.
The Minster Quarter infrastructure works are a key priority for the Council and add up to a further £3m worth of improvements for Sunderland. The masterplan includes public realm upgrades along the high street, extra pedestrian crossings on St Michael’s Way and a greater emphasis on the cultural offering and heritage of the city to create an area the community will value.
This is a city which is alive and prospering, with serious potential to become a major 21st century economy. Add to that a university ranked 16th out of 131 institutions for student experience in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019 and it is easy to see why so many young people choose to study here.
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