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Durham University

University and City: Growing together

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A summer of opportunities

(1 August 2019)

Professor Stuart Corbridge, our Vice-Chancellor, writes about some of the activities taking place at the University over the summer, and how you can get involved. 

As the soaring temperatures and scorching sunshine leave us in no doubt, summer has arrived. 

While most of our undergraduate students are away and many of our researchers are undertaking field work, there is still lots going on, and lots of opportunities to get involved with us here at Durham’s university.

Supporting young people to fulfil their potential

We’re already under way with our Supported Progression summer schools, which we run to help talented young people from our region who have the potential to study at a university like Durham. Students get a taste of university education, and what it’s like to live in a College. They are very popular with both schools and students, and many participants go on to successful undergraduate study with us.

Once they’re completed, we’ll be straight into our Sutton Trust summer schools, which have a wider geographic intake but focus particularly on bright students from state schools.

A-level results day will be here very soon, and these week-long residential schools are part of our important and comprehensive programme of work to support young people from all backgrounds reach their full potential.

Helping children stay active and have fun

Meanwhile, our ever-popular summer camps have begun, offering children aged four to 16 opportunities to keep active and enjoy themselves throughout the school break. I know these camps are greatly appreciated by parents. And I’m very pleased that the young participants have been among the first visitors to enjoy our upgraded sports and wellbeing facilities at Maiden Castle.

Work on the new-build facilities is almost complete, and it was a pleasure to welcome so many neighbours and visitors to the new Fitness Centre during its opening event last weekend.

A summer at the museum...

The summer is also a great time to explore our museums and attractions. The Oriental Museum is currently showcasing some exquisite Chinese jades, contemporary ceramics inspired by the experiences of international students, and the lives of Cham communities in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. There are lots of family-friendly sessions, and also new dementia-friendly art workshops which run each Wednesday.

Palace Green Library is currently hosting ‘Wild’, an exhibition celebrating our British natural history, as well as the DLI Collection Gallery exploring our local military heritage. If you have children under five, perhaps they’d enjoy our Little Bookworms club, which offers crafts, messy play, storytelling and singing every Monday. 

At the Museum of Archaeology you can experience life in Bronze Age Britain at the Prehistoric Pioneers exhibition. And while you’re in the city centre, why not join a tour of Durham Castle? They last under an hour and give a fascinating insight into 900 years of living history.

With the weather as it is, it’s a great time to enjoy our Botanic Garden. It’s looking superb right now, and there are special events throughout the summer.

We’re very proud of these great attractions – both as inspiring places to visit and as tools for enabling outreach and education. We reached nearly 24,000 young people through our attractions during the past year, a record number, and we’re looking forward to building on this success in the year ahead.

Playing our part in City life

Finally, I want to offer my congratulations to everyone who took part in the Durham City Run Festival last week, whether you achieved a personal best or went at a more leisurely pace. The conditions were certainly less-than-favourable to be running any distance at all! But it was great to see so many people, of all ages, enjoying our beautiful City over a long weekend, and it was our pleasure to sponsor the Festival and host many of the events.

We want to play our part in Durham thriving. It’s exciting to see new developments such as Riverwalk taking shape, new retailers coming into the city centre, and new initiatives such as Durham’s first Restaurant Week proving popular. If you have suggestions on what more we could do, please email: university.strategy@durham.ac.uk

However you spend it, I wish you all an enjoyable summer.

This article was first published in the Durham Advertiser.