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Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience

Student news

Opening up access to Durham

(26 February 2021)

Two students chatting

Creating an inclusive and supportive academic community is really important to us. We want to ensure that entry to university is based on merit and academic potential, not social background, ethnicity, gender or other factors. One of the ways we encourage and enable students from a wide variety of backgrounds to apply for, and go on to excel in, one of our programmes, is through our various accessprogrammes

Through our STEP programme (Space To Explore Potential), we give an immersive opportunity for young Black students, to explore not only their own potential, but all that Durham has to offer as a potential university destination. Participants take part in a three day summer school which allows them to:

  • experience taster sessions from academics in a range of subject areas;
  • receive advice and guidance on UCAS applications, personal statements and student finance; and
  • network with current and prospective students from around the UK.

Those who successfully complete the summer school will be given a guaranteed alternative offer to study with us.

Another of our programmes designed specifically to support Black-heritage students to fulfil their aspiration to attend a top tier University, is the Insight2Uni e-mentoring programme run by With Insight Education, in partnership with us. This programme teams Year 12 students with current Durham University Black-heritage students who are able to offer authentic advice and guidance, to support students through the decision- making and application process. We aim for participants to be able to make informed decisions, feel supported in submitting high quality applications and to grow in confidence.

The Sutton Trust summer school creates an opportunity for Year 12 students at state schools and colleges in the UK, who meet a number of social mobility criteria, to experience undergraduate Durham student life. The summer school is modelled on a typical undergraduate student experience – to showcase what being a student at Durham is really like. Participants can get involved in lectures, seminars, independent study, and social activities. They’ll also benefit from being matched with a student mentor and offered support with the UCAS process throughout. Students will also gain access to the Sutton Trust Online platform, with lots of support and resources to help them throughout Year 12 & 13.

Supported Progression is a programme for talented Year 12 students and also offers a real insight into Durham student life and culminates with successful participants receiving a guaranteed alternative offer to study at Durham. The programme seeks to specifically support those who are typically underrepresented in Higher Education and particularly at Durham, including those from state schools and lower income families.

We also offer a number of scholarships and bursaries specifically for North East students, to encourage home grown talent to consider Durham as their University of preference. We know that Higher Education is an expensive prospect, but we see it as an investment for the future and do not believe that socio-economic background should be a barrier to accessing an excellent education.

Participants in these programmes consistently tell us how valuable they have found them and we are delighted that so many of them have gone on to choose Durham. Read more about their experiences on our Student Blog site where many of them have shared their stories and wise words of advice.

These programmes form just one part of our work on equality, diversity and inclusion at Durham. We acknowledge that we have a long way to go in terms of ensuring representation for all ethnic and social groups within our student body but these programmes will play a significant role in supporting students from a wide range of backgrounds to apply to Durham and help shape the future of Durham University.

Applications for The Supported Progression programme are open until Sunday 28 February, applications for The Sutton Trust are open until Tuesday 16 March and applications for STEP and Insight2Uni are open until Friday 16 April.

Further Information



The Sutton Trust

Supported Progression

North East student scholarships

Student Blog site