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Senior panel of 5 - NE Conference

Last week, we met with colleagues from all five Universities at a conference designed to deepen and widen the collaboration between the institutions.

Image above; (from left) Lucian Hudson (Durham University), Professor Chris Gaskell (Teesside University), Professor Claire O'Malley (Durham University), Professor Graham Wynn (Northumbria University), Professor Chris Day (Newcastle University)

The North East Collaboration Conference took place in the stunning King’s Hall at Newcastle University, organised and delivered by a team from across all the universities, led by Justin Cole, Executive Director of External Relations at Newcastle University. 

For the first time, professionals from marketing, communications, student recruitment, fundraising, external relations, alumni and supporter engagement teams joined together to discuss the particular challenges and opportunities encountered through being based in our region. We joined together with teams from Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside, each bringing their own perspective and examples of good practice.

Panel discussions

The day began with a panel of senior colleagues, moderated by our own Director of Advancement, Marketing and Communications, Lucian Hudson.

This panel, including Durham’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global), Professor Claire O’Malley, shared their interpretations of how ‘place’ relates to each of the institutions. This session provided invaluable context for the following sessions as the senior representatives discussed how the unique characteristics of a university’s surroundings can shape their culture and identity.  

Shaid MahmoodFollowing this initial session, there were further discussions on the themes of ‘Embracing Civic Responsibility’, ‘Showcasing North East England on a global stage’ and ‘How universities can collaborate and influence policy development’.  

Durham’s representatives on the three panels were (respectively); Dr Shaid Mahmood (PVC EDI), Claire Whitelaw (Director of Communications and Engagement) and Neil Heckels (Senior Policy Engagement Manager, Research and Innovation Services).  


Collaborative break-out groups 

The afternoon comprised break-out groups that were allocated by operational function. In these sessions, colleagues were able to discuss, debate and explore the different challenges and approaches from each of the institutions. Each function had the opportunity to feed back to the wider group with their collective findings.  

These positive and constructive experiences illustrated the positives within each of the five regional universities and encouraged networking across function for a more collaborative approach going forward. By working together, universities can contribute to the development and growth of the region - all concerned are very much looking forward to the next conference! 


Newcastle University 

Northumbria University 

University of Sunderland 

Teesside University