Episode 34: Changing places - from the RAF to the University of Sunderland

Episode 34,  Jan 09, 08:03 PM


In Episode 34 of University Registrars Talking About Stuff I have an interesting half hour chatting about stuff with Steve Knight who has been Chief Operating Officer at the University of Sunderland for six years now. Steve has had a distinctive career journey which started with a 26 year stint in the RAF followed by time at Middlesex University and in the private sector before arriving at Sunderland. 

We explore the cultural differences and also, perhaps surprisingly, the many similarities between higher education and the services before discussing the development of health provision at Sunderland and its impressive progress in opening up a new medical school.

Steve is frank about the significant problems presented to the University by a major cyber attack in October which meant that they had to shut down all IT systems and then recover from there, taking 4-6 weeks to get fully up and running again. The attack meant that everyone realised how dependent on technology all operations were and how important it was to have back up plans and alternative communications channels available. This is an increasingly common issue in the sector and Steve has some really sensible advice for all institutions on preparing for and responding to such situations. 

This was not the only challenge which faced Sunderland though and came on top of both the ongoing Covid response and major structural damage following Storm Arwen. We also talk more broadly about the impressive achievements of university staff in the face of the pandemic and some of the new challenges Steve predicts coming down the track for the sector in the months and years ahead. 

All in all, a really good conversation and I do hope you like it.