We’ve received a £1million donation towards a major scholarships programme helping students from low-income backgrounds in North East England to study at Durham.
Our Durham Inspired North East Scholarships support exceptional young people from across the region to fulfil their potential with us, regardless of their financial means.
Thanks to the scholarships, students can study up to masters degree level with financial assistance.
The £1million donation comes from the Race Family, from Northumberland, who have created a perpetual scholarship in the name of Dr Malcolm and Mrs Patricia Anne Race for four students each year from the North East wishing to study History and Liberal Arts.
Both Malcolm and Anne were first-in-family university attendees, and met and studied at Durham in 1959 where they both read Modern History.
Malcolm was, and still is, a member of University College and Anne was at St Mary’s. After a few years away from the area developing their careers they finally settled in Northumberland in 1977 where they raised their three children.
In total, each year more than 20 students will receive Durham Inspired North East Scholarships of £4,000 a year to study for foundation, undergraduate and masters level qualifications.
Of that £4,000, £1,500 supports students’ wider university experience including internships and careers support to help develop skills that complement their academic studies.
The Durham Inspired North East Scholarships were established in 2020 with a £2million endowment as part of a landmark £7.5 million donation from Charles Wilson, a Durham graduate, and his partner Dr Rowena Olegario, an Oxford University researcher.
That endowment included matched funding from several generous benefactors including the Ruth & Lionel Jacobson Charitable Trust.
Other donors to the scholarships include Edward Knight and Peter Ellis, the latter being a legacy donation made to support students and allocated to this fund as it was in-keeping with the donor’s wishes.
For 19-year-old Grace Purnell a scholarship from Durham University has opened up “a field of opportunities”.
Grace, from Hartlepool, is in her second year and is studying environmental geoscience having switched from natural sciences after discovering a passion for geology during her first year at Durham.
Alongside her academic studies she was on the production team for the summer musical at St Mary’s College, joined the College hockey team and hopes to take up basketball in her second year.
On top of that, Grace is also a member of the Durham Palaeontological Society and Geology for Global Development.
Grace received the Brian Cooper Scholarship which supports young people from County Durham with tuition fees, living expenses, and other costs associated with Higher Education.
Grace said: “Thanks to the scholarship, I’ve never had to turn down an opportunity at Durham because of money which is something that would have been a significant barrier to me.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met and I’ve done a lot of new things I hadn’t done before.
“Anyone thinking of applying to Durham absolutely should. It’s one of the best choices I ever made and as soon as I got here I knew I was in the right place.
“And if you’re thinking about applying for a scholarship, absolutely do. Even if you don’t think you’ll get it, just apply for it because you never know what’s going to happen. It really can be life-changing - and it was.”
Grace’s future plans include further exploration of palaeontology or potentially going into environmental law.
“I’m really just looking at a field of opportunities and it’s very exciting!” she added.