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Durham University

University and City: Growing together

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Why and how we are growing

(29 June 2018)

Professor Stuart Corbridge, the Vice-Chancellor, discusses how and why the University is growing.

Anyone who’s been in Durham this week will know that it’s been Congregation, which is when our students graduate in the beautiful setting of Durham Cathedral.

For me, Congregation is a good example of how the University and City co-exist and bring value to all of our community.

Congregation brings many visitors into the City and I know this causes some disruption. But hotels and restaurants have been packed and the City is buzzing with life.

Congregation also reaffirms the value of partnership. We are grateful to the Cathedral for hosting us and to City businesses for welcoming our visitors. Working together, we will ensure that Durham remains the wonderful place it is to live, work and study while we build an even stronger University.

Positive contribution

I know that some have questioned our reasons for growing. In short: we want to grow so that we can strengthen the positive contribution we make to society, locally, nationally and globally.

Universities do not exist to make money - we are a not-for-profit charity - but to enhance our understanding of the world through research and education. We make our facilities and expertise available to local communities and for the public good.

Of course, it’s important to grow responsibly. Our intention over ten years is to increase our staff members by around 700, with accompanying student growth of less than 4,000.

This will all be carefully planned. As a Collegiate university, we aim to house at least half of our students in our own accommodation by 2027.

Benefits of growth

Growth will have many benefits.

Firstly, in creating and supporting more jobs and value added: in the University, in our supply chains and in new ventures inspired by our research.

Secondly, in supporting our communities: we want over ten years to quadruple the number of hours our staff and students dedicate to volunteering, from 25,000 hours a year to 100,000 hours.

And finally in enhancing the built environment. We can improve on our current Elvet Riverside complex, to take one example, and make our buildings more accessible.

Ongoing dialogue

We realise there are concerns about the proposed growth of the University and I am grateful for continuing community feedback. Our Community Engagement Task Force will be considering these concerns as part of the Action Plan that it is now under development.

If you have further comments or suggestions we will be pleased to receive them. We are grateful for your partnership with us as we work together to ensure that we have a University and City that we can all remain proud of.

This article was first published in the Durham Times.