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Education, access and future skills

Seminar using a whiteboard and students with laptops

We are a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence. We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables them to do outstanding things in the world. 

Our research-led education ensures our students are challenged and inspired, pushing the boundaries of current thinking and research. 

University student
I have always believed that education is the beating heart of opportunity. No-one needs to be defined by the circumstances of their birth. Education is both a privilege and a responsibility.

Dr Fiona Hill

What we are already doing well:

  • We have increased our investment in support and training for staff to develop their digital teaching skills.
  • We have offered funded extensions for our studentships to support those unable to complete research projects due to Covid-19.  
  • We launched the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD) to deliver sector-leading programmes and bring together development activities across the University. 
  • We launched Leadership in Learning and Teaching, so our staff have the latest student-centred innovative pedagogical thinking and leadership skills. 
  • We developed our Access and Participation Plan, agreed with the Office for Students, to improve equality of opportunity for under-represented groups to access and progress from higher education. 
  • We refined the use of guaranteed contextual offers to students in target categories (neighbourhoods with low participation in higher education and socio-economically disadvantaged areas). This enables us to maximise conversion of applicants to students from under-represented groups. 
  • We provide access to selected undergraduate degree programmes for students coming from a wide variety of backgrounds through our Foundation Programme. 
  • We are reviewing and improving our curriculum, looking at how we can optimise use of digital tools and skills and enhance the understanding of sustainable development goals and much more.
  • We support student-led projects to develop entrepreneurial skills, including Enactus Durham, which creates social enterprise businesses to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

We will:

  • Continue our step change in widening access. Our aim is to recruit the best students for the courses that the University offers, irrespective of background.  
  • Continue to support younger learners in regional schools and colleges:
    • Our Supported Progression Programme for Year 12 students develops key personal skills to help them succeed at university.
    • We are a partner institution to the Sutton Trust. Together we provide a summer school available to students from under-represented backgrounds to allow them to find out more about applying to university, to meet current students and work with one of our academic departments.
    • Our Space to Explore Potential programme offers a dedicated space for young students of black heritage to explore their own potential and opportunities at Durham.
  • Consolidate our Learning Alliance with further education colleges to encourage pathways into Durham. 
  • Develop as a global learning community, committed to enabling student interactions through major developments in learning technology. 
  • Engage students in inquiry-based activities that are intellectually challenging and consistently develop their capacity for high quality independent learning.
  • Be a leading university of choice for an increasingly diverse and international student population.
  • Promote greater opportunities for our students to study at non-UK universities and to build international placements and internships into degree programmes. 
  • Optimise the use of institutional resources in doctoral training and supervision to develop highly capable and innovative researchers. 
  • Establish a roadmap for new educational offerings and pathways, including online learning and degrees, lifelong learning, further education progression partnerships and degree apprenticeships. 
  • Deliver an outstanding offer in sustainability education, mapped to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to our formidable research in this area.
  • Develop Durham’s distinctive, stretching and personalised research-led education around key themes of digital skills, authentic learning and assessment and employability.