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Durham University

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New Year message from the Vice-Chancellor

(4 January 2019)

Professor Stuart Corbridge

Professor Stuart Corbridge, the Vice-Chancellor, reflects on the year gone by and looks ahead to the coming months.

“Another year over and a new one just begun.” Many of us will have heard these words of John Lennon during the Christmas break. They prompt me to use my first column of 2019 to reflect on the year gone by and to look ahead to the coming months.

It is an uncertain time for higher education. All of the region’s universities are awaiting the outcome of the Government’s Post-18 Education and Funding Review, now due in Spring 2019. But at Durham we have a strong mix of subjects and a distinctiveness which consistently attracts the best students and staff. As we look ahead to 2019, I am confident that Durham University – Durham’s University – is well placed to make continuing progress.

We are now 24 months into a ten-year Strategy which will help us deliver research, education and a wider student experience that are consistently world-class and ensure our long-term financial sustainability.

We are building new facilities, such as the Teaching and Learning Centre at Lower Mountjoy, and renewing existing ones, such as The Assembly Rooms Theatre on The Bailey. We are also investing heavily in our IT systems and our people – creating many new jobs along the way. And we are building a significantly larger sports and wellbeing facility at Maiden Castle that will benefit all parts of the Durham City community and beyond.

The relationship that has developed between Ustinov College and our neighbours at Sheraton Park is a great example of how we can all benefit from sharing our City. I am sure there will be more to learn as John Snow College moves to Rushford Court, on North Road, this summer.

Our academics continue to produce world-changing research – from probing the beginnings of the Universe to pioneering a greener energy future. In the past year we have shown how dogs can be trained to detect malaria, charted the true scale of Antarctic ice losses and brought academic rigour to the ongoing debate over grammar schools. Last year, too, the Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre was honoured to receive a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education from Prince Charles in Buckingham Palace, just shortly after HRH’s February visit to the City and County Durham.

As ever, I find the creativity, enthusiasm and selflessness of our students inspiring: from English Literature undergraduate Sophie Ainsworth being presented with a Prime Minister’s Points of Light volunteering award for raising awareness of invisible illnesses to Van Mildert College’s community outreach work being ranked among the best of any college or university anywhere in the world.

Such examples epitomise our desire to develop the University in a way that benefits everyone in our City and region. I believe we made important progress last year, including appointing an outstanding Community Liaison Officer, Hannah Shepherd, and developing a Community Engagement Task Force to help the University and local partners work together. We know we have more to do in this area and your input over the coming year would be most welcome. You can contact us via:

My best wishes for a happy 2019.

This article was first published in the Durham Advertiser.