70% disproved


33% of Durham alumni are married to or have a partner who also went to Durham, according to a Freedom of Information request by Palatinate. This contradicts a frequent claim that 70% of Durham students will marry a fellow student.

Of those with a spouse or partner, 84% are with fellow alumni. This compares to 76% at Exeter University and 83% at Leeds University.

These figures challenge a frequently-cited article in The Independent from 2013, which estimated that 72% of Durham students would marry a fellow student, compared to a national average of below 20%.

The University holds data for 27,773 alumni on whether they have a spouse or partner, of which 10,920 do. Of these, 9148 are known to have a spouse or partner who is a fellow Durham alumnus or alumna, with 8747 for spouse and 401 for partner.

Data about the marital status of alumni is provided during ‘transactions’ with the university, including contact details updates, event registration, and making a donation. Alumni whose partner or spouse also went to Durham are likelier involved with the University in this way.

In this case the true percentages would likely be lower.

33% of Durham alumni are married to or have a partner who also went to Durham

Figures show that in the 2020/21 academic year, when distance-learners are excluded, the Social Sciences and Health Faculty had by far the highest number of current students who were married, with 25 undergraduates and 215 postgraduates.

This reflects the fact it has the highest number of mature students, 839, who are more likely to be married. Both Arts and Humanities and Science have 341 mature students, with 135 and 90 married students in each.

The Business School is the only faculty which has a significant number of distance-learning students.

Of these 225 studying part-time Managing and Marketing, 219 are ‘mature’ students, and 135 are married. Figures for current students are rounded to the nearest five.

Image by Manjaree Gamage-Brooker

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