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Durham University

University and City: Growing together

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Working in partnership with our local community

(27 September 2018)

Professor Stuart Corbridge, the Vice-Chancellor, discusses how the University is encouraging positive citizenship among our students.

A new academic year is about to get under way at Durham University. It seems opportune, then, to share some thoughts on how we can all enjoy a more harmonious living and working environment here in Durham City and our region.

Most of our undergraduates will be arriving in Durham this weekend (29-30 September). Induction Week begins on Tuesday (2 October) and our autumn, or Michaelmas, term begins a week later (Tuesday 9 October).

We are aware of the changes that our freshers and returners bring to Durham. Much of this is positive: for businesses, for the arts scene, for the good causes which our volunteers support and for the general vibrancy of our City.

But we are also aware of the concerns that residents might have about a City with a large student body. And we have acted on those concerns. I hope this year you will notice a shift in the way we encourage positive citizenship among our students and in how we respond where behaviour falls short of the standards we all expect.

For example, we are finalising a Student Community Pledge which clearly sets out what students can expect from us (University and City), and what we expect from them as citizens. In addition, we have reviewed our Code of Conduct and policies on alcohol and drugs to ensure that they are fully fit for purpose.

We have also been creating a new Student Development Programme which includes a module exploring the North East’s history and culture. This will be part of the Induction of all Durham students and has been developed in collaboration with many local stakeholders, to whom we are very grateful.

Recognising that arrivals weekend brings increased traffic, we are working with the Police University Liaison Officer to co-ordinate arrivals slots for our various Colleges. We are also writing to all students living in private accommodation to encourage them to keep the noise down, be good neighbours, keep their home and surrounding areas tidy, stay safe and make a positive contribution to our City.

In all this we recognise that solutions to community issues will only be reached in partnership and we are working actively with residents’ groups through the Durham University Residents’ Forum and our Community Engagement Task Force. If you have suggestions on what more we can do, please email: university.strategy@durham.ac.uk

This article was first published in the Durham Times.