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Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience

Student news

Durham Inspired – North East Scholarships programme launched as part of record donation

(20 October 2020)

Scholarship recipient Bethany Henderson

We want to welcome the best and brightest students with the merit and potential to succeed, regardless of their economic circumstances. 

That's one of the reasons we are delighted to announce the establishment of a major scholarships programme to enable students from low-income backgrounds in North East England to study here at Durham.

Durham Inspired – North East Scholarships

An endowment of £2 million will inspire and support exceptional young people from across the region to fulfil their potential here at Durham, regardless of their financial means. 

Each year, over 20 students will receive a scholarship to empower and enable them to study for foundation, undergraduate, and masters level qualifications while also giving them additional financial assistance to pursue the outstanding leadership and development experiences which are a vital aspect of a Durham University education.

Largest donation in our history

The Scholarships are part of a landmark £7.5 million donation from Charles Wilson, a Durham graduate (Geography, Grey College, 1983-86) and Chief Executive Officer of the food wholesaler Booker, and his partner Dr Rowena Olegario, an Oxford researcher.

This is the largest single donation in the history of the University.

Funds donated will also be used to launch the Wilson Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in our Business School, and to support the world-changing work of our Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR). 

The Wilson Institute will assist entrepreneurs and business leaders, especially in small and family businesses from around the region and beyond.

Additional funding for the IHRR will mean more research to help professionals around the world protect, save, and recover thousands of vulnerable lives and at-risk communities every year endangered by natural hazards.

Enabling us to Inspire the Extraordinary

The £2 million endowment includes matched funding from several generous benefactors including the Ruth & Lionel Jacobson Charitable Trust.

The Durham Inspired – North East Scholarships programme builds on our existing scholarships focused on North East England, including the Robert Young Scholarship, the St Nicholas Scholarships and the Brian Cooper Scholarship, and our own Vice-Chancellor’s North East awards.

We’re so grateful for everyone’s support, which is transforming lives both in North East England and around the world. 

The gift will also support our wider Durham Inspired Campaign, chaired by Rob Senior, former Chief Executive Officer Worldwide of the major advertising business Saatchi & Saatchi, which seeks to support the next generation of inspiration and leadership through Durham University.

The gift was announced by The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman William Russell (General Arts, Grey College, 1984-87), a contemporary of Charles Wilson, who gave a speech at the University during an official regional visit.