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Postgraduate Frequently Asked Questions


What is college membership?

Every student at Durham is a member of a College, and Colleges provide students with much more to student life than studying. Further information on what it means to be a postgraduate member of a college can be found here.

Can students stay in their college for second, third and fourth-year accommodation?

Returning students can apply to return to their college for accommodation or move out to privately rented accommodation in Durham City. 

How do I apply for University accommodation?

Once you have accepted an academic offer from Durham, you then have the opportunity to rank three colleges in order of preference via the College Membership Application. You can then choose 'Yes' to confirm being interested in University accommodation.

Further information on how to apply for University accommodation can be found here.

I have not got the college I would prefer, can I be moved?

Durham University has a policy that once a college allocation is made then it is part of our broader offer and not something that would be changed at the applicant’s request.

Having multi-disciplinary academic communities is very important to maintaining our unique collegiate experience and so our allocation process is designed to ensure that this academic balance is maintained. 

When will I find out my college allocation?

College allocation decisions will depend upon your start date and mode of study. Please see our webpages here for further information.

Can I express more than one preference for a college?

Yes. Postgraduate applicants are able to rank three colleges as preferences within the College Membership Application.

I have deferred my offer, do I keep my college allocation and accommodation?

If a postgraduate applicant defers an offer, your college allocation and accommodation will be withdrawn. You would be required to rank college preferences again for the academic year you are applying for. You would also be required to reapply for college accommodation.

I have a particular interest/skill/ability and that is why I wanted my preferred college. Can I be moved?

All colleges are academic communities offering opportunity for participation in a wide range of activities. There are also university wide organisations and activities that students can join. Students have the opportunity to participate at college, inter-collegiate and university level in any activities they wish to participate in. We do not look at such factors when allocating colleges. See further information regarding how the allocation process works here.

I have been allocated to a college which does not offer the facilities I wanted. Can I change?

The allocation process is based upon membership only in the first instance. We do not allocate colleges on the basis of the facilities they have. The college allocation is part of the broader academic offer and as an offer holder you are being offered membership of a college community, not a particular room/catering type.

I cannot afford a catered college, can I be reallocated to a self-catered college?

Our current policy is that once a college allocation is made this would not be changed based upon an applicant’s request. The only exception to this would be where a specific medical need cannot be met in the allocated college.

Our catered colleges serve around 650 meals per year to students and this approximately averages at just over £4 per meal. We feel this offers good value to all students who reside in a catered college. There is no culinary equipment needed to be purchased and no weekly food bills on top of the overall price.

The University has put together some information on the cost of living, managing your money and working during your studies here. The pages also include further information on how to seek advice and additional support if needed.

I have a medical need that I feel cannot be met by my allocated college. Can my college be changed?

In the first instance, you should speak with your allocated college to see if any needs can be met or mitigated. The college will also be able to give you more information if necessary on how to be considered for a transfer on medical grounds, should your needs be potentially best met in an alternative college. Further details regarding college transfer requests can be found here.

I am a current student at Durham and wish to retain my current college membership; do I need to submit the College Application?

Applicants with previous membership of one our of colleges are able to remain with their college for their postgraduate studies. Please contact your allocated college directly for further guidance regarding this.

If you are a part time or distance learning applicant who has received confirmation of their allocation then please contact The Accommodation and Allocations Office for further guidance.

Can I be placed on a waiting list for my preference college?

We do not operate waiting lists, whether this be centrally or within each individual college. Once a college allocation is finalised this will not be changed at an applicant’s request.

Can I swap colleges with a friend?

We do not operate a swap system.

Can I change which college I'm allocated to if I don't want to live in college accommodation?

No. College allocation and the collegiate system of Durham is about more than just accommodation. 

Your college is where you are provided with membership and will be the place where you socialise and meet students and staff from all levels, disciplines and nationalities. Being part of a college means that you get the benefits of a large, international university whilst being a member of a smaller, friendly scholarly community.

Colleges also offer a comprehensive programme of student-led events and extra-curricular activities as well as personal support. You can even help run aspects of your college, which provides you with unique leadership opportunities and gives you valuable experience for your future career.

How do I appeal a decision not to permit a change of college on medical grounds?

Applicants are allocated to a college through our publicised college allocation process. Durham University has a policy that once a college allocation is made then it is part of our broader offer and not something that would be changed at an applicant’s request.

Requests for a college transfer that are not based upon a medical need will not be considered, and there is no appeals process for this decision.

If an applicant has a medical need, they must first liaise with their allocated college to see if their needs can be met or mitigated for. If an applicant's needs cannot be met by their allocated college then they will need to follow the College Transfer Request process. If this is followed and a reallocation is confirmed, then there would be no appeals process for the decision made.

Similarly, if an applicant follows the College Transfer Request process and no transfer is required, there is no appeals process for this decision.

I want to change my college preferences on my College Membership Application - how do I do this?

Applicants are able to submit a new College Membership Application up until the postgraduate college allocation process commences in July-time. The college preferences within the most recent submission of the College Membership Application will be what is considered as part of the allocation process.

Does college preference matter for my choice of study programme?

All colleges are multidisciplinary communities, meaning there is no one college for a particular subject. You can therefore express a preference for any of our 17 colleges where postgraduate students are members, or an 'open' application if you do not have a preference. Your preference will be taken into consideration as part of the allocation process.

Do I need to accept my offer for postgraduate study before I am allocated to a college?

Yes. Postgraduate applicants must have formally accepted an academic offer from Durham to be eligible to rank college preferences.

Do catered colleges offer food for students with dietary requirements and/or allergies?

All colleges are able to cater to a wide variety of dietary requirements, including vegan. We would advise you contact your allocated college directly to discuss your dietary needs, as this can be passed onto the college kitchen staff.