New City Campus investment set to transform skills education and training

A significant investment in technical facilities at Sunderland College’s City Campus is set to support the future generation of highly skilled engineers and business management professionals.

The new capital investment at the college’s campus, based in the heart of Sunderland City Centre, will revolutionise skills and technical education and support the delivery of new engineering, manufacturing, and energy skills provision along with new provision in leadership, management and business administration.

The new investment will create an impressive addition to the college’s existing state-of-the-art, industry-informed, technical skills campus and will ensure that the college and its T Level curriculum can grow in alignment with the evolving needs of industry across Sunderland and the wider North East region.

Set to benefit from these exciting new developments is the college’s Department of Engineering, Manufacturing and Automotive. Students will be able to experience a 360-degree immersive digital training hub where industry environments will be replicated to immerse groups of students in international, national and regionally located industrial environments in a tech-led innovative environment.

Shaped in partnership with Envision AESC, the Department will also benefit from a new battery power training facility, and automation and robotics hub, along with a new hybrid automotive technical skills facility including electric charging stations.

Once complete, the college’s Sunderland-based engineering, manufacturing and automotive facilities will offer some of the best training facilities in the region, enabling the college to respond to the needs of industry now and in the future.

The Department of Education is also supporting the college to launch T Levels in Business Management. Further capital investment will see the creation of a business management suite, based on the design of some of the best international business schools, to enable students to operate in a variety of different learning environments.

It will feature innovative areas for individual learning, collaborative working, business interaction and developing entrepreneurial experience. A new boardroom space will feature interactive digital walls to allow students to interact with websites, web-based applications, dashboards, data visualizations, spreadsheets, video conferencing platforms, 3D design tools and more.

Located alongside the Department of Engineering, Manufacturing and Automotive, this new multi-functional space will be used by both business and management and engineering and manufacturing T Level students to allow them to learn from each other and the regional employers that engage with them.

Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East, which includes Sunderland College, said:

“At our City Campus, we’re committed to providing students with innovative learning environments that will help them reach their full potential and prepare them for a highly skilled career. This investment reflects the work we have been doing to align our 16 to 19 and adult skills strategy to the industrial and digital developments across Sunderland and the wider North East.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Department for Education for their support as this capital investment will transform our facilities and support our T Level students to develop technical skills and competencies through immersive, real world training scenarios.

“Our T Level qualifications have been designed in collaboration with priority sectors across the region to produce a skilled workforce for the future. We look forward to playing a key role in transforming technical education and providing our students with state-of-the-art facilities to enrich their learning and ensure they gain the essential higher-level skills and knowledge that industry will demand in the future.”

The college is working with local contractors to ensure the capital investment benefits the local economy. Newcastle-based Silverstone Building Consultancy has been appointed to project manage the investment programme. They have appointed North East-based Seymour Architects as lead architects, EQUANS (ENGIE’s UK and Ireland services-led division with offices in the North East) as the main contractors, with Newcastle-based JCP Consulting Engineers Ltd as Mechanical and Electrical consultants.

Paul Wharton, Associate Director at Silverstone Building Consultancy, said:

“Silverstone Building Consultancy is delighted to be part of the team delivering this project for Sunderland College. T Levels are so important to industries moving forward, especially from the perspective of construction and surveying. I’m proud that the team working on the project are all North East-based consultants and sub-contractors.”

Will Kay, Regional Managing Director at EQUANS, added:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Education Partnership North East and Sunderland College to deliver a radical transformation of the college’s City Campus.

“Giving students the best possible facilities to learn and develop, gives them a strong foundation and the key skills to move straight into any number of careers. The state-of-the-art campus will give learners the ability to work closely with cutting-edge technology and undertake programmes that employers really value.”

T Levels are the Government’s new two-year technical study programmes. They offer an additional pathway for school leavers, alongside apprenticeships, vocational courses and A-Levels. The pioneering qualifications, designed in collaboration with leading employers, provide the skills that businesses require to produce a skilled workforce for the future and reflect the top growth areas in the North East.

T Levels combine classroom study with a substantial industry placement so young people gain valuable work experience in their chosen sector. Industry placements are a core element of T Levels and see students spending an extended period (at least 45 days) in a work environment gaining hands-on experience and learning vital technical skills. Many businesses are embracing T Levels as a way to bring in innovative ideas and the latest skills and discover, nurture and secure young talent.

The new capital investment is due for completion this summer. For more information about T Levels, visit