Prof Julie Mennell

University of Cumbria is top in North West and amongst best in UK for Graduate Outcomes


University of Cumbria has been rated as top in the North West and amongst the best in the UK for graduate employability, with 96% of all its graduates in employment or undertaking further study within 15 months of graduating.

Published by the Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA), the Graduate Outcomes Survey records what higher education (HE) students are doing 15 months after qualification, and the latest figure puts the University of Cumbria top in the North West compared to other non-specialist higher education institutes. Also, 83% of our graduates who entered into paid or voluntary employment were in professional-level jobs.

As the anchor higher education institution for the region, with strong local and national stakeholder partnerships, the university is able to equip its graduates with the higher-level skills, knowledge, and capabilities they need to contribute to business growth and development in the region and beyond.

Continuing to show consistent and year on year progression in graduate success and outcomes, this latest report follows on the back of a study commissioned by Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance earlier this year, showing the University of Cumbria ranked as third in the north for students to start or manage a business and 25th in the study overall.

The University of Cumbria has also recently been recognised as number one for its quality of education in the UK and eighth in the world, this is according to the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, the only global performance tables that assess universities’ impact against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking about the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey, University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell said: “Here we work hard to equip and empower our students with everything they need to pursue their chosen career.

“Our focus on providing a learning environment, industry-related work experience opportunities and teaching from people who have worked in their profession make this possible.

“We continue to work in partnership with local and national employers to produce graduates with the skills and abilities needed to contribute to business growth and development in our region and beyond. And we pride ourselves on guiding our students to achieve more, making us one of the top universities in the UK for graduate outcomes.”

University of Cumbria graduates go on to undertake professional roles with local, national and international employers in the NHS, wider health and social care sector, emergency services, education, rural and visitor economy, business and industry.

In particular, the Covid-19 crisis has thrown a spotlight on the work of essential key public services staff – especially those in medicine, nursing, teaching, allied health professions, social work and policing. Such professions will be increasingly vital as the region begins to heal in the months ahead, and University of Cumbria plays a crucial role in training and supporting the key workers of tomorrow.

Its portfolio focus, and student and staff make-up enable the university to do this on a significant scale. From the NHS and wider health and social care sector, emergency services, education, and policing, the university is determined to continue to do all it can to provide immediate support to these sectors and to support their longer-term resilience and recovery.

Professor Mennell goes on to say: “We are proud of all our alumni and many have gone on to achieve great things, locally, nationally and internationally.

“Our results in this year’s Graduate Outcomes Survey really demonstrate that if students stay focused, they can go far, and we are proud of the part we play in developing and equipping our graduates to go on and succeed in their chosen field.”

Notable alumni include popular television presenter Helen Skelton who is also now an Honorary Fellow, professional English cricketer Richard Gleeson who studied Sport Coaching and is now playing for Melbourne Renegades in Australia, and Megan Hine, an Outdoor Studies graduate who is now a Survival Expert – as an expert on survival in all manner of remote conditions around the world, Megan is an advisor to Bear Grylls and has appeared on his popular TV shows, Mission Survive and The Island.

As well as its more famous alumni, the university has many graduate success stories it can be proud of such as that of Detective Sergeant Rob Ewin, who studied professional policing at the University of Cumbria.

Rob said: “At age 20 I joined Cumbria Constabulary as a Special Constable. It was during this time that I became aware that the University of Cumbria offered degrees in policing. I felt I did not have the academic qualifications to apply, but I had the practical experience and had worked in the police for some time. I spoke to Dr Maureen Taylor, then a lecturer at the university, she gave me the confidence and support to apply.”

Rob is now in the very final stages of his PhD. He has been promoted to Detective Sergeant and works within the force’s major investigation team where he has worked on number of complex investigations including murder, rape and human trafficking. Rob also supports the university with associate lecturing, enabling students to benefit from a serving police officer’s knowledge to boost the practical application of their learning.

Making a difference is something University of Cumbria graduates strive to do, and 2018 alumnus of the year Katie Slavin-Trower is no exception. Graduating with a B.A. Hons in Drama Performance and Technical Theatre, Katie went on to set up ‘Shining Stars’ a theatre school for young people with learning difficulties.

Katie felt compelled to set up the school because she suffered from a bad stammer when she was younger and found that drama helped her to overcome the challenges it presented. She said: “Drama helped me so much when I was younger and so setting up the theatre school was the only way I was able to give back and help others who need a little extra push in life,”

Katie’s work was recognised in 2016 when she was a finalist in the Young Scot of the Year Awards.

There are many different routes people can take to gain their degree and a foundation year is one of those options. A foundation year enables people to access university when their grades don’t meet the requirements of a desired course. They provide students with core knowledge on a number of subjects relevant to the course they want to study. This is the route Matt Wardle from Carlisle took after he almost didn’t attend university. Matt said: “After leaving secondary school I went straight into bar and restaurant work but felt like I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough.

“After eventually plucking up the courage to contact the University of Cumbria, I began a foundation degree in Law and went on to graduate with a first-class Law LLB (Hons). I now work at Butterworth’s Solicitors as a Legal Adviser handling civil litigation claims, and I am also studying part-time for my LLM in Legal Practice.”

University of Cumbria has a dedicated team on hand to help anyone who is interested in starting university this year. Whether you still need to apply, are looking for a course, have changed your mind about the course you have chosen or are looking for a career change, the university’s Clearing hotline is now open. Clearing hotline - 0808 178 7373 - and online at


Picture 1: University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell

Picture 2: University of Cumbria - Fusehill Street Campus