Sunderland University School of Medicine 'to tackle doctor shortage'
The University of Sunderland has opened a new School of Medicine in a bid to tackle a shortage of doctors.
Fifty students have enrolled on medical degrees and university chiefs said it was hoped that students would stay and work in the region's hospitals.
Last year Sunderland was one of five places in England chosen by the government to open new medical schools.
Student Francesca Cockell said more people from "working class" backgrounds were getting places to study medicine.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said last year that the new schools were in areas where it "can be hard to attract new doctors".
He said that by 2020 an extra 1,500 more medical students would be trained in the country each year to help care for an ageing population.
The last medical school to open in the North East was at Newcastle University in 1834. A new building - the King George VI building - was opened in 1939 by the king himself.
Sunderland medical student Miss Cockell, 18, from Whickham in Gateshead, said: "I like the fact that this is a university willing to accommodate medical students from all backgrounds, that the door wouldn't be shut on you just because you come from a working class environment."
Prof Scott Wilkes, head of the School of Medicine, said: "Part of the reason why we were named as one of the five new medical schools is our commitment to inclusivity when attracting medical students.
"We have achieved our target by using our breadth of expertise in attracting students from all backgrounds."