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Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, stood smiling with arms folded, in front of bookshelves

Professor Karen O'Brien, our Vice-Chancellor, explores some of the opportunities on offer at the University this summer.

With a heat wave upon us and the school holidays about to begin, I thought I would use this month’s column to share some opportunities to enjoy what Durham’s University has on offer this summer.

First up, our ever-popular Team Durham Holiday Camps will run from on weekdays Monday 25th July to Friday 2nd September. These are open to children aged five to 16, great fun and very reasonably priced. Go to for more information.

Or how about a visit to one of our attractions? The Botanic Garden is looking wonderful, and a great place to find some shade; and the Oriental Museum is the perfect place for curious minds of all ages. Over the summer the Garden and Museum will host a teddy bears’ picnic, games night, origami sessions, silk painting workshops, storytelling and more. Find out more at

Starting next week (Tuesday 26th July) is the Durham Fringe Festival, including new theatre shows written, directed and performed by our students. If you’re looking for a laugh, don’t miss Durham University Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology theoretical physicist Fran Chadha-Day’s stand-up comedy show, where she will be answering some of the more unusual scientific questions she is asked by family and friends.

Many of the Fringe events will be at our Assembly Rooms Theatre, which is looking superb following a major facelift shortly before the pandemic. If you’ve never been, or not been for a long time, this is the perfect opportunity.

Have you ever wondered what might be buried underneath your garden? The Big Dig project, involving our Archaeology Department, The Auckland Project and King James I Academy in Bishop Auckland is your chance to find out. Since the beginning of the year, the team has been excavating private gardens, unearthing over 2,000 finds. If you’d like to volunteer your garden, please get in touch via

If you’re a visitor to our Maiden Castle Sports and Wellbeing Complex (and if you’re not, I’d recommend it: it’s a great facility, open to all), you may spot some top athletes training there over the next couple of weeks. We’re hosting the Zambian team in training for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. In all, 41 athletes from nine sports codes are making use of our facilities, as well as local swimming and boxing locations. It’s fantastic to see the world on our doorstep in this way, and we wish all the Zambian athletes well in the Games.

On the theme of Durham as a global university, I’m proud to say that we’re now twinned with Zaporizhzhia National University in Ukraine. ZNU is about 25 miles from the current conflict zone, but has continued its teaching, remotely, and has absorbed at least two universities from areas occupied by Russia. We hope this link will support ZNU staff and students, in the short- and longer-term.

The approach of August means A-level results day is drawing near. I wish all those awaiting results every success. We have scholarships available for North East students for 2023 entry (full details at and for more information on studying at Durham University, please visit:

However you spend it, I wish you a very pleasant summer.