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Durham University

Notices

Unbound Education: Creating a Sustainable Future for Durham University

The information below relates to discussion of the Unbound Education: Creating a Sustainable Future for Durham University paper, which was considered by the University's Senate on Wednesday 22 April, 2020.

Media statement, Thursday 23 April

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “Durham University continues to plan for a full residential teaching offer in October while also ensuring that teaching can go online if there is a lockdown later in the year or in 2021.

"Discussions about the University’s long-term ambitions to grow its distance learning portfolio, which is currently centred in the Business School, will continue across the University, and through its Senate and Council, over the next few months."

Media statement, Wednesday 22 April

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “Today (Wednesday 22 April), the University’s Senate has considered a paper titled ‘Unbound Education: Creating a Sustainable Future for Durham University’.

“We welcome the feedback we have received on these proposals, both from Senate today and others in the past week. We will continue to listen to our staff and students and look forward next to hearing from the University Council.

“The University continues to plan for a full residential teaching offer in October while also ensuring that teaching can go online if there is a lockdown later in the year. We look forward to working together as a community to secure the continuing success of the University as a whole.”

Message from the Vice-Chancellor, Monday 20 April

Some recent news reports, including in Palatinate and The Times, have suggested that Durham’s plans to enhance online teaching imply an ambition to scrap tutorials and abandon live lectures here in Durham. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the past year we have opened a wonderful new Teaching and Learning Centre on South Road and a state of the art Sport and Well-being Park at Maiden Castle. We have also revamped our Assembly Rooms student theatre. Later this year we will open two new Colleges at Mount Oswald and a very large new home for Mathematics and Computer Science at Upper Mountjoy. We haven’t made these investments with a view to walking away from our Collegiate residential model.

The University is already looking forward to welcoming our new students to Durham for induction week on 28 September 2020 and to beginning face to face teaching on 5 October, the first day of our Michaelmas Term. We are particularly excited about meeting those who will join South College, Durham's seventeenth college and the first addition to our collegiate family since 2006. Freshers and returning students from increasingly diverse backgrounds will enjoy the world class teaching and superb wider student experience that make Durham such a tremendous place to learn, grow and make friends for life.

Of course, we are also working hard to ensure that our high quality teaching offer is ready to go ‘online’ in the event that lockdown continues throughout 2020. And we are keen to embrace excellence in pedagogy in all its forms. However, our diligent preparation for a worst case scenario should not be mistaken for pessimism. We cherish Durham's distinctive blend of academic excellence and outstanding sport, music, theatre, enterprise and volunteering just as much as you do. We call it the Durham Difference and we would not surrender any of it voluntarily.

Stuart Corbridge
Vice-Chancellor and Warden

Media statement, Friday 17 April, 2020

Professor Antony Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Durham University, said: “We want to ensure we can continue to deliver highest possible quality of educational offer for both current and future students within a strong collegiate and academic community.

“None of us yet know what the 2020/21 academic year will look like, but we must plan now so that when we do, we have options properly developed and ready to implement for our current and future students.

“Our focus is as ever on the quality of the Durham educational offer. If you choose to study at Durham, in Durham itself, from a distance or perhaps in combination, you will get a world-class experience.

“Anticipating that some and perhaps a significant number of students will not be able to travel to and live in Durham in 2020/21, we are preparing an online, distance learning programme that is both inclusive and high-quality. We already deliver highly successful online programmes such as our Online MBA, which is ranked in the top ten in the world.

“We are extremely grateful for how our staff have responded to the Covid-19 crisis and we welcome their input, as well as that from trade union and student representatives, as we seek to take these proposals forward.”

Notes

  • It has been reported that Durham University wishes to reduce face-to-face teaching by as much as 25%. We have suggested a reduction in modules for the 2020/21 academic year with the aim of reducing the workload on academic staff, allowing them to plan, adapt and develop a really outstanding online educational offer but these are proposals for discussion.
  • The proposals are part of the Unbound Education: Creating a Sustainable Future for Durham University paper, which is due to be considered by the University’s Senate shortly. It has been shared with Heads of Departments in advance to encourage consideration by staff and feedback will be considered as part of the process and the proposals have been discussed with the recognised Trade Unions.
  • The University has been working on a programme of Curriculum Reform for over two years, such that many of the proposals have already been explored with staff.