Sunderland Vibe meet some of the students helping to create the diverse, but united, community we are proud to call the University of Sunderland…

Every year, thousands of international students become part of the University of Sunderland’s global family. Many arrive to make the city their new home, some opt to stay in their own countries and study through long distance learning programmes, while campuses in London and Hong Kong become the base for others.

The reach of the University community continues to extend to all parts of the globe, from Africa to Asia, America to Australia, making studying in Sunderland a truly international experience.

Each student brings with them a rich diversity, which makes a huge contribution to life in the region, while others spread the good word and reputation of the city and institution in their homelands thousands of miles away.

While many people may be familiar with the international student contingent living on Wearside, the reality is that the arm of the University reaches much wider, to countries including Kenya, Uzbekistan, and Barbados.

Here, we meet some of the students helping to create the diverse, but united, community we are proud to call the University of Sunderland.

Rose Hopewell-Fong, Hong Kong

Rose grew up in Hong Kong, but later moved to England to study, where she also represented England U20s in Rugby Union.

After a difficult decision to return home, she went on to represent Hong Kong 7s and 15s Rugby Union in a professional capacity.

While all of this was going on, the now 29-year-old decided to embark on the University’s Independent Distance Learning PGCE programme, to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.

This year, Rose was awarded the University of Sunderland Alumni Achiever of the Year (Hong Kong) honour – another honour for Rose to add to her trophy cabinet, which already reflects her hard work, not to mention her multi-tasking skills.

In the last two years, she has started and completed her Masters in International Education with Sunderland and become mum to Olivia Margaret, now 17 months old.

Rose said: “There is no award for juggling multiple commitments in one’s personal life. An international sporting representative, a full-time worker, a part-time distance learner and becoming a mother – which will soon be twice – in just two years, has been hectic, yet so rewarding, to say the least.

“While we all strive to achieve goals in our careers after graduating, it is so nice for personal achievements to be recognised too. Thank you University of Sunderland!”

Joel Manning Barbados, Eastern Caribbean

Joel Manning left behind his mum and brother at the family’s home in Saint Michael, Barbados, to take the next step towards achieving his life’s ambition.

The 27-year-old has been playing cricket since he was a schoolboy and his passion for the game led him to Wearside to take up an MA in Sports Journalism at the University.

Up until a few months ago, Joel had been working and living in Barbados and had never considered the path to his future career could begin in Sunderland.

Joel said: “After a bit of research on sports journalism courses in the UK, I chose Sunderland because it ranked among the top options. Their courses were NCTJ- accredited allowing me to get both my degree and NCTJ qualifications.

“Beyond this, I also saw potential opportunities to interact with prospective employers in the media industry and learn from lecturers who have experience in the field.

“My experience so far has been nothing short of amazing, although the weather is cold! The course content has been engaging and lecturers have gone the extra mile to guide me towards my intended career. The media facilities and available equipment have made it easy to get the practical experience that employers are looking for today, too.”

Nasreen Ali Kenya, Africa

This year, Nasreen was named University of Sunderland’s Alumni Achiever of the Year (Kenya).

The Business Management graduate is co-founder and chief financial officer at Cherchani Africa, a social enterprise which uses mobile technology to provide financial education to women and former street children who are running small businesses in Kenya.

Nasreen, 32, said: “My mother was a micro-entrepreneur and I saw how difficult it was for her to keep her business sustainable. She borrowed from loan sharks whose high interest rates stagnated the potential of her business.”

“Witnessing her struggles made me really empathise with women and girls with a vision to start and run their own businesses.”

In 2014 she co-founded Cherehani Africa with a vision of supporting communities through access to financial services. Recently, she also launched Afrikapu, a social-enterprise that sells African handmade products made by marginalised women and young people in Africa.


Professor Lawrence Bellamy

Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism at the University, has spent much of the past year visiting the international family in different parts of the world.

He said: “The university has an exceptional international reach, with longstanding partnerships running from the Caribbean, across Africa, through the Middle East and into the Far East.

“With some of these in existence now for 20 years, the number of students who have studied degrees with our partners now number in the many thousands. This gives Sunderland a rich community of alumni, spanning the world and in many sectors, with some reaching very high levels of office.

“Whether in Nairobi, Trinidad, Tashkent, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India or Sunderland, it’s clear that the students all go forward with strong ambition, optimism and a desire to really make a difference.

“The same is true of the many nationalities of students who come to study with us in Sunderland. Often coming from regions which are more able to support the cost of studying away from home, they are looking for a UK higher education experience.

“The cohorts we deal with are diverse and as such the many world-views come together in the classroom. This is beneficial for all students; after all, we are preparing professionals for the global careers they may have in the future.

“Being a global university enriches both the city and the learning and lives of our students. They gain greater world views and experiences, have access to opportunities which they otherwise would not and are able to move forward with greater skills. The greater value comes from the broader economical and societal benefits which arise from these activities.”

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