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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, shares her thoughts on the results of the BiGGAR Report.

Here at Durham University we’re a world-leading university, and proudly part of North East England – we are Durham’s university.

From inspiring learning to sharing our facilities, from driving economic growth to helping our region become more sustainable: we aim to ensure the benefits of a world-leading university are shared across our city, county and region.

Our impact beyond research

Last week we published a new, independent report exploring how the University, working with our partners, friends and neighbours, contributes to the economic, cultural and social vibrancy of our area.

Among the headlines were: in 2020/21, we generated £1.9 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) and supported over 17,000 jobs for the UK, including £668m GVA and nearly 11,000 jobs in the North-East. Of these totals, £489m GVA and 8,000 jobs were in County Durham.

For every £1 of funding we received, we generated £4.80 in economic impact for the UK.

Our community values

Perhaps just as striking as these statistics were the stories behind them. How we’re supporting business through NETPark and the Orbit University Enterprise Zone, taking a key role in leading events and festivals such as Lumiere, Durham Book Festival and Durham City Run Festival, inspiring children through our science and collections outreach programmes, and many, many more examples.  

But what was particularly pleasing was hearing what others said when they read the report. City of Durham MP Mary Foy said Durham was culturally and economically richer for the University’s presence; Durham County Council Leader Councillor Amanda Hopgood said she was proud that Durham is home to a world-leading university and that the University brings social and economic benefits to the whole of the County; and Ed Twiddy, Chief Customer Officer at the Durham-based Atom bank, called the University a “keystone of both the regional and national economy”.

John McCabe, Chief Executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said the report’s findings were incredibly encouraging, and Henri Murison, Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said the University could positively impact our neighbouring communities, wider region and the Northern Powerhouse more in years to come. 

For me, that last point was particularly interesting. This report has detailed what we achieve together now. What might we achieve together in future? For more information and to get in touch with your ideas, please visit

Related links

-Read more about the BiGGAR Report here