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Durham University News

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Durham is named ‘University of the Year’

(30 September 2005)

The Sunday Times

Durham University has secured the title of ‘University of the Year’ in the new Sunday Times annual guide to universities.

The award was welcomed with delight and enthusiasm by Vice-Chancellor, Sir Kenneth Calman, as an accolade for staff and students whose work is at the heart of the performance, quality and wider recognition that the title represents. He said: “This underlines the quality of our work as a higher education provider in many contexts. In particular, it confirms Durham as the North East’s premier university and a leading player on the national and international scene. “I am immensely proud of all the staff - and also the students - who together are responsible for our achievements and our standing with schools and elsewhere. It is mainly about academic achievement in teaching and research, but our quality also extends to our residential colleges and how we engage with schools, business, culture, sport and in other ways as part of the wider community.” The new Sunday Times rankings, published on 2 October, are the first to include the new national student satisfaction data, and come out just as Durham’s undergraduates are returning for the start of the new term. Durham Students’ Union President Nick Pickles said: “Winning this award goes to show just how good the Durham student experience is. A unique college system, excellent departments and a vibrant student community all contribute to make this such a truly excellent university." ‘University of the Year’ is the crowning element of the newspaper’s annual guide to universities, now in its eighth year, which includes detailed profiles and a table based on quality in teaching, facilities and performance. Durham, which was short-listed for University of the Year in 2004, was chosen partly for moving back into the top 10 in the overall table, to 9th place (from 11th last year) and also for a sustained record of achievement, improvement and recognition throughout all the paper’s surveys. In its announcement the Sunday Times says: “The results of the first national student survey published last week saw Durham ranked 13= in a Sunday Times analysis of all results across all subjects. The survey measured student satisfaction with teaching quality, course structure, learning resources, assessment and feedback among other factors. Durham scored better in the survey than any other university in the top 10 of the Sunday Times university league table. “Head teachers at Britain’s leading state and independent schools were even more impressed, ranking the university 8th for the quality of its undergraduate provision across a range of 30 subjects.” The award shows Durham as a most consistent performer, irrespective of the criteria and weighting of the surveys. The improvements over several years reflect a very capable response to changes in higher education. The Sunday Times Guide draws on official published data about applications, admissions, academic quality ratings, facilities and services as well as the National Student Survey and its own research. Among Durham’s key strengths and activities: • Top-rated international quality research in Applied Mathematics, Chemistry, English, Geography, History and Law, followed closely by Accounting and Finance, Anthropology, Archaeology, Biological Sciences, Classics, Education, Engineering, French, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology, Pure Mathematics and Theology • One of the top satisfaction ratings in the recently-published National Student Survey for the teaching and learning experience • A supportive residential, social and welfare environment through its 15 colleges and the services of its Students’ Union. • One of the best completion rates by graduates in the country – and conversely, one of the lowest drop-out rates • Strong networks and partnerships with industry, cultural and heritage activities and sport • Significant partnerships with industry, spin-out companies from university research, and good graduates all in support of economic regeneration in the North East. • Student volunteers with many projects through Student Community Action, and charity fund-raising by DUCK (Durham University Charities Kommittee). The University has nearly 15,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students on programmes in Durham and at the Queen’s Campus, Stockton. It employs more than 3,000 people and, with an annual turnover of some £140 million, is one of the major economic players in the North East.

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