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Northern Lights: A world of choice attracts students to university ‘woven into city fabric’

Chris Hubands
Chris Hubands

It’s that time of year again. Over the past few weeks, something over 60,000 students have arrived in Sheffield, drawn here by the city’s two universities. They come from all schools and colleges across the United Kingdom, and from all over the world, students drawn to the city by the reputation and strengths of the two great universities. All have made a positive choice to come to Sheffield to study. For our international students, they have chosen to study in this city, in one of the city’s two universities from, literally, a worldwide choice – they could have gone anywhere.

But a good number of students at both our universities come from this city and this region. The city and the region are deep in the DNA of the two universities. Sheffield Hallam is a great regional university. Almost half of our students come from within 25 miles of the University, many from areas with traditionally low numbers of young people entering higher education. We know we are a major creator of opportunities for them.

Two fifths of our students come from low income backgrounds, and we believe it is a powerful part of our mission to work with them to create opportunities. Last year, Sheffield Hallam admitted more students from low participation neighbourhoods than any other university – we are proud of the part we play in building opportunities for all. All successful universities grew out of their cities and communities and the vast majority of truly successful universities see that it is a critical part of their role to play a regional and civic role.

We are, as a university, at the heart of this region – and we take great pride in being a university for the region and are determined to support our community to make the improvements we all need.

Our ‘Heart of the Region’ campaign aims to highlight what we do to support this ambition, but it also outlines our plans to benefit the region even further.

Sheffield Hallam is a major driver of the economy, adding over £420m a year to the city region’s economy, generating almost £80m in tax receipts and supporting almost 10,000 jobs. Without the contribution of the university, the region would, literally, be poorer.

We work closely with industry and businesses to create the workforce of the future, ensuring that it is equipped to meet and respond to future challenges. We do that through our research and innovation, in our hugely successful programme of degree apprenticeships – one of the biggest

‘learn and earn’ programmes in the country - and through over 25,000 student placements with employers, the overwhelming majority of them in the city region. From advanced gaming to materials science, from cyber-security to building design, from healthcare to teacher education,

from rail engineering to advanced food technology the university is a proud innovator, working closely with the city region.

We are improving education through our ground-breaking social mobility partnership South Yorkshire Futures. Backed by our elected mayor Dan Jarvis MP and the Government, it aims to improve attainment and raise aspiration for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across all age groups.

Sheffield Hallam is one of the country’s largest centres for healthcare education in the country: we provide more new members of the NHS workforce than any other English university. But our regional role in healthcare education is critical.

Over the last five years, over 8,000 students qualified as health professionals through their training at Sheffield Hallam and a large majority went on to work in the hospitals, surgeries and clinics of the region as nurses, midwives, radiographers and so on. Their training is underpinned by some of the best healthcare training facilities in the country, and by research at the cutting edge of health and social care.

Apart from improving social mobility, quality of life and the economy, we provide the spark to create a whole host of new cultural opportunities. Our refurbishment of the city’s Head Post Office created a gallery space for the city, fronting Fitzalan Square and now driving wider regeneration in that part of Sheffield, and our exhibitions and galleries welcome visitors, including large numbers of schoolchildren each year. Earlier this year we added Sheffield’s newest performance and rehearsal space to our estate – the Performance Lab on Arundel Gate, which extends the region’s range of cultural resources.

Our university’s foundations can be traced back to the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution – with the opening of the Sheffield School of Design, which produced skilled designers who were integral to the success of local manufacturers and industry. Today Sheffield Hallam is proud to remain at the heart of the region, woven into the fabric and culture of Sheffield and the surrounding area, vital to its success.