University’s biggest ever graduation event as 5,000 descend on city

Around 5,000 students will descend on Sunderland in the next two weeks as the city’s University hosts its biggest ever graduation celebration.

The influx of graduates is set to provide a major boost to the local economy, with thousands enjoying the city’s cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, travel and tourism.

The next two weeks will see record numbers of students in the city, with around 2,500 plus their families and friends returning for ceremonies at the Stadium of Light between July 4th and July 8th for the first time since COVID, and a further 2,500 coming the following week.

One of those students returning is Stacy Humphrey, who finished her nursing programme in March 2020.

Stacy said: “I actually started work in the very first week of lockdown. It was a daunting but exciting prospect… The past couple of years I have worked within the Emergency Department and Coronary Care and have come full circle back to the University, now lecturing on the BSc Nursing Top Up Programme.

The ceremonies are the latest in a series of high-profile events hosted by the Stadium of Light this summer, following on from the Ed Sheeran and Elton John concerts. Leaders from across the city have welcomed the returning students, and the boost the ceremonies would give to the city’s businesses.

Sharon Appleby, chief executive of Sunderland BID said: “Hopefully they will be able to see some massive changes in the city centre and when they are out and about, they will enjoy what our diverse businesses have to offer.

“The student community is so important to the vibrancy of the city and the businesses benefit hugely when they are studying in the city. We are looking forward to seeing the graduates and their families and to welcoming the new students who are coming later in the year.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, added: “I’d like to congratulate Sunderland’s graduates and welcome back those returning to the city.

“Those returning may notice some new businesses have appeared in and around the city centre since their last visit. With thousands of graduates returning to Sunderland with their friends and family, I’m sure the city’s hotels and hospitality businesses will receive a boost throughout July.”

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