Ofsted has rated the University of Sunderland as a ‘good’ provider following a recent inspection.

The art and design foundation programme was judged to be ‘outstanding’, with a similar judgement made about personal development, behaviour and welfare.

Inspectors examined the University’s level 4 art and design foundation programme and the level 4 business administration apprenticeship programme in March 2019.

Ofsted’s report, published on 17th May, was highly complimentary about the teaching, learning and assessment outcomes for the art and design foundation programme, which they described as being of a ‘consistently excellent standard’.

For the University’s intermediate and advanced apprenticeship programmes, the inspectors reported that the apprentices had developed the skills and attitudes that employers value.

On the art and design foundation programme, the report comments that:

  • students make consistently strong progress from their starting points and achieve outstanding outcomes;
  • students benefit from excellent facilities and equipment and produce work that exceeds the expected level for their programme;
  • highly motivated tutors use their expertise well to design a curriculum and provide teaching, learning and assessment activities of an excellent quality; and
  • students engage in realistic and commercially applicable projects. These provide them with collaborative work and high-profile opportunities to broaden their understanding of the breadth of opportunities in the creative industries.

On apprenticeships, the report says that:

  • progression for students and apprentices to higher education or employment is very high;
  • employers support apprentices to develop good vocational knowledge and improve their writing, practical mathematical and digital skills well at work;
  • university leaders understand the skills gap in the region and have worked well with employers to develop a well-designed portfolio of training and development programmes; and
  • university leaders and governors have set ambitious priorities for the university. Their mission to act as an agent of social change and opportunity is strong.

University of Sunderland’s Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, commented on the report’s findings, saying: “I am very pleased to see our work highlighted positively by the Ofsted inspectors.

“Although this inspection only covered a very small number of students and learners – under 30 – it demonstrated conclusively that we have an individualised approach, with everyone’s educational needs taken very seriously.

“I was particularly taken with the inspectors’ appraisal of our students’ learning outcomes. As the report says:‘students take pride in their work and they thrive in a culture of high aspirations. They are confident and self-assured… They develop the skills and positive attitudes that employers value, which help them to be successful at work or meet challenging commercial deadlines in their career’.

“Such comments are consistent with our approach across the University where we seek to equip students with the capacity and capability to progress in their education and move on to a fulfilling and rewarding career

“There are a small number of action points for us to address from the report. With colleagues, I have already begun to look at how we can improve further our approach for the benefit of students and learners.”

Why did Ofsted inspect the University of Sunderland?

Under the Education and Inspections Act 2006, Ofsted inspects higher education institutions where they provide further education and/or apprenticeship training.

In the University of Sunderland’s case, its level 4 art and design foundation programme and intermediate & advanced apprenticeship programmes were inspected.

How often does Ofsted inspect the University of Sunderland?

Providers judged good for overall effectiveness at their most recent inspection will usually be inspected within five years of the publication of their previous inspection report.

This will normally be a short inspection but may be a full inspection where information suggests that this is the most appropriate course of action, for example if the provider’s performance has declined.

A good provider may also be inspected as part of Ofsted’s survey work, or through a monitoring visit.

Before this 2019, visit Ofsted last inspected the University of Sunderland’s art and design foundation programme in 2014, when it was also rated as outstanding.