Introduction to the Colleges
At Durham, every student is a member of one of the sixteen (soon to be seventeen) colleges - along with a great many members of staff. The colleges provide a sense of community at a more human scale within the larger University, an enormous variety of student-led activity, and a natural place for interdisciplinary connection and conversation, as well as a physical home for many students. You can find links to all the colleges here.
Each college is led by a Head (the Principal or Master), responsible for student development and support in that college (as well as alumni and community relations) via a team of staff. College Heads typically spend around half their time in their College, and half in a senior academic or professional role within the University. The Director of Operations in the Colleges and Student Experience Division oversees other integrated teams within each College who provide operations and catering services. (The exceptions are the two independent or “Recognised” Colleges, St Chad’s College and St John’s College, which are autonomous institutions.)
Working for the Head of College, student development and support staff provide programmes of proactive challenge and encouragement to students to achieve their best in any and all domains of their student experience. This often includes organising and promoting to students a wide range of opportunities offered by the College's alumni. College staff furthermore set the tone for the culture of their communities, and guide and mentor the elected student leaders in their Common Rooms. They provide “first-line” student support, and signpost students with more complex or specialised requirements to central services such as the Counselling or Disability Support teams, or to their Department or School for academic issues.
Each College's members also belong to self-organised and self-governing communities within the college. Typically, this is a Junior Common Room (JCR) for undergraduate students, a Middle Common Room (MCR) for postgraduate students, and a Senior Common Room (SCR) for staff, friends of the college, and members of the local community; but many colleges have their own distinct variations on this theme. The Common Rooms are places for both development and support, as well as avenues for socialisation, academic curiosity, and responsible citizenship. Each will typically have a President and Executive Committee elected by the membership, serving for a term of one year.
Joining a Senior Common Room
As a member of Durham University staff, or a friend of the College from the local community, you may join a Senior Common Room (SCR). Joining an SCR will give you full access to the College and College life, including formals, social events, a physical ‘common room’, and much more.
Deciding which SCR to join is up to you, and you may join more than one if you wish. Each SCR differs in their offer of events, location, heritage, and functions. You are warmly encouraged to investigate further!