None of my family went to University so when I arrived at Durham University in 1981 I was what we now call a first generation scholar. Although I grew up in the North East, the world of Durham University was light years away from my experience of a comprehensive school in a former mining village. Yet I found a place here which enabled me to grow as an academic, to participate in sport and to develop new leadership skills. This was in part due to the welcome and support of the college community and of course in those days both tuition and maintenance fees were covered by a student grant. I remain so grateful for this opportunity.
In a world which is now very different in terms of financial pressures on students, I see the value of how we provide support for current first generation scholars. This is an issue about colleges embodying cultural diversity but it is also about practical financial help towards maintenance charges through to the many extra financial costs involved in the wider student experience.
I am conscious that when it comes to leaving a post, colleagues begin to talk about giving gifts. Having been blessed in so many ways in my role as Principal, I would feel that any leaving gift could be directed to supporting first generation scholars. So, in consultation with College I have asked that any leaving gifts might be a donation towards our continued support of these students. If you would like to support me in this I would be grateful and delighted.
Revd Professor David Wilkinson, Principal