Bernie Callaghan: Life change of going to university

Yesterday was an important day for many people across the region and the UK, ending a stressful time for parents, teachers and, most of all, thousands of nervous students

Bernie Callaghan
Bernie Callaghan

Yesterday was an important day for many people across the region and the UK, ending a stressful time for parents, teachers and, most of all, thousands of nervous students.  Waiting for the A level results which were announced on 15 August is an anxious, adrenalin-filled time for all involved.

Now the route forward is clearer for thousands of people hoping to begin university later this year. The next few years can set the course for a long-term career, open up unexpected opportunities and introduce lifelong friends.

However, those who choose to take up an apprenticeship, go straight into work or take a gap year could have equally fulfilling prospects. Some entrepreneurs begin as teenagers and build business empires from then on. Career routes are rarely straight lines, and for school-leavers, a long and winding road may eventually lead to a dream career.

With the beginning of a new academic year coming up fast, the region will be buzzing as thousands of students return to our five universities. It’s a perennially exciting time, especially in a student-rich region like the north east. New and returning students give a huge boost to North East business, leisure and entertainment, and their energy and enthusiasm create a fantastic atmosphere in our cities and towns.

It also highlights the depth of talent that makes its way to the region each year. All universities look to attract and retain talented students. Translating their initial enthusiasm into long-term engagement takes huge commitment from staff to make the most of undergraduates’ time from induction until long after they leave.

A good student experience also means being job-ready when you leave. Employability of students is top of the agenda for my faculty and many others.

I’ve seen the remarkable impact university life has on students. It’s great to watch independence and confidence flourish with the positive experiences and friendships created on campus.

It means that this week could be genuinely life-changing, not only for many school-leavers who decide to go on to the universities of their choice, but also those who take up apprenticeships or set out on the first step of a career.

This week highlights the fact that many students can teach us all a thing or two about surviving stress, getting results and moving forward.

:: Professor Bernie Callaghan is dean of the faculty of business and law, University of Sunderland

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