Skip to main content

Our Vice-Chancellor Karen O'Brien with a background of books

The strategic leadership insights of our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen O’Brien, have opened two recent key higher education sector reports, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

Digital transformation in higher education

Professor O’Brien opened a new, comprehensive and far-reaching collection of essays by HEPI, discussing the digital landscape of a modern university and making the case to elevate digital transformation to a strategic level.  

The report brings together leading voices from across the sector to explain how technology can improve higher education. As part of the report’s first chapter, Professor O’Brien’s essay discusses governance and leadership – how digital strategy is the responsibility of everyone in leadership roles and that accountability does not rest in the IT department.  

With technology underpinning key university processes such as enrolment, assessment and graduation, Professor O’Brien asserts how it is vital that the voice of IT and digital is heard clearly and consistently.

Digital technologies are the transport vehicles for the student journey from enquiry to graduation, and the means, mode and often subject of much of our research.

Professor Karen O'Brien
Vice-Chancellor and Warden

Sector-leading gender pay policies

Durham’s progressive family-friendly policies were also highlighted for being sector-leading in a recent HEPI report that explores the gender pay gap in higher education. 

In the report foreword, Professor O’Brien emphasised the importance of closing the gender pay gap. She also acknowledged that while, as a University, we are pleased to have been making steady progress with a long-standing and structural gender pay gap, we still have a way to go.  

This activity forms part of our regular University engagement with a range of think tanks and organisations to contribute to the development of thinking in the HE sector and more broadly.

Find out more