The first of two hour-long consultations was held on 14th August to contribute to the process of appointing a new Vice-Chancellor and Warden of the Colleges.
12 students signed up to attend the panel, though a small handful of other students were able to join at short notice. Only one person of colour was in attendance.
Leading the consultation were 2 members of Perrett Laver, a recruitment firm which Durham has employed before. The firm is employed to formulate a list of suitable candidates which will be submitted to the “Vice-Chancellor and Warden Working Group” in mid-October.
The Working Group creates a “short list” from the longer list created by Perrett Laver, and then submits a formal recommendation of a candidate to the University Council. The Council is expected to make an appointment in January, though timetables may be subject to delays due to Covid-19.
Students were asked to contextualise Durham and what makes it unique. Responses focused on the positives of the collegiate system. Several students criticised what they perceived as a process of centralisation undermining this. In addition, the price of college accommodation came under fire muliple times.
One major theme was whether the student consultations would actually have any bearing on the final decision. Dan Perrett, who led the consultations, was unable to guarantee that student voices would be considered. He advised students to raise the issue with the Chair of the Working Group, Joe Docherty.
Students also criticised a perceived lack of care for both staff, after years of strikes and casualisation, and the city of Durham, with increasing student numbers.
Members of the Working Group mainly comprises senior academics including Professor Thom Brooks, Dean of Durham Law School, and Professor Rob Lynes, Principal of Stevenson College. The only formal student representation within the Working Group will be SU President Seun Twins.
The second consultation session will be held on 2nd September.
Image: Fellwalker via Creative Commons