Durham University admits lowest proportion of local students in the UK

By and

Durham recruits the lowest proportion of students from its region of any UK university, with just 10.1% of UK first-degree full-time students coming from the North East of England in 2018-19.

The analysis from Times Higher Education, based on unpublished figures from the Higher Education Statistics agency, comes as the treatment of Northern students at Durham is highlighted in a report by student Lauren White, publicised in Palatinate and The Guardian last week. 

Second lowest were the University of Warwick and Loughborough University, followed by the University of Cambridge. Just over 13% of their first-degree UK students are from the region in which the university is situated.

A Palatinate investigation from November 2019 revealed that, on average, only 7.8% of total students at Durham University over the previous 5 years were from the North East.

In 2019, Durham University confirmed that the majority of their students are from “the highest participating in higher education neighbourhoods”, on average 52-55% over the past five years, compared to 5-7% from the Low Participation Neighbourhood group, measured by “POLAR4 quintiles”. 

Durham University’s ratio of quintiles 5 and 1 is currently 10:1, while the average ratio among high tariff institutions is currently 5:1. They recognised that what “makes this ratio particularly problematic” is that “quintile 5 includes the postcode areas for many of the best performing schools in the country”.

Other universities in the North East have a much higher proportion of local students. 23% of Newcastle University’s admissions in the 2017/18 academic year were from the North East and a Centre For Cities study reported that half of the students at Northumbria came from the region.

Stuart Corbridge, Durham’s Vice-Chancellor, said to Times Higher Education that the North East was the region “with the lowest rate of participation in higher education in England”.

He continued: “We have a large number of programmes to encourage students from the north east of England to apply to study here, or indeed to go on to study at another university, and we are constantly building these programmes and the financial support that underpins them.”


8 thoughts on “Durham University admits lowest proportion of local students in the UK

  • Why is this article just a list of statistics? Are you claiming that the University discriminates? If so, that’s a crime and you should take them to court. Otherwise, stop posting misleading information.

    • The article is demonstrating the low participation of local students at Durham.It’s not a comment it’s a report!

  • Durham used to have a great record on widening participation, it built a whole campus in Stockton which was filled with local students and those who didn’t quite get the normal grades for entry. It was pretty successful, I certainly benefited from my time there and didn’t care that it was removed from the main campus.

    We always felt that we had better facilities, a gorgeous location (the library looked out over the tees) and much better contact time than those up in the city (30 hours +). After I left they even started to run shuttle bus services between the two.

    I don’t really know where it went wrong for Durham, it seemed to stop caring about the links with the community, residents in Durham City complain about the uni having too much property and too much power. They do have links with local schools but not strongly enough and not the casual regular contact that enables local school pupils to feel connected. They are like a bit like Landed Gentry to the local tenant farmers, there is a relationship but a totally unequal one.

    I worked in a number of local schools where pupils thought of Teesside and Sunderland as their local Universities and Durham as elitist and remote and even when perfectly able to not somewhere they could see themselves attending. There is nothing wrong with elitism when its about quality but the current situation sounds like pure snobbery and class bullying of the worst sort. The privileged students of Durham will hopefully go on the be the business and political leaders of the future but if at 18-21 they are already sneering at their peers these attitudes will pervade their future.

    Perhaps the university could encourage some of the less valued skills such as kindness, support, empathy and a concentration of being good human beings.

  • I totally disagree with this article. Personally I realise that most people in the North of England don’t even know about the existence of the University.
    My daughter is in her first year at Durham and so far she says almost everybody she’s met has been nice. She just felt a bit disconnected during the first few days because most people have come from down south. She just thought she didn’t have much in common with them. We live in the North West. That doesn’t mean people are not kind. They were rather kind, polite and helpful when we dropped her off on the first day.

    • The article is demonstrating the low participation of local students at Durham.It’s not a comment it’s a report!

  • It doesn’t surprise me. Durham Uni has a reputation in the area, as a magnet for SE students, who didn’t make Oxbridge. They have an additional reputation for giving local students a difficult time. Negative comments re accents and stereotypical views of the NE. I had a colleague at work who was from South Shields and attended Durham, this was her experience too. Another colleague, his daughter opted for Oriental studies at Newcastle because of the negative elitist reputation of SE Oxbridge reject students, at Durham. On my visits to Durham City in September, you can spot the parents of the SE freshers a mile away. They have this expression on their faces and through their minds, the thoughts are flowing. “, Oh there’s the ubiquitous George sausage roll shop, Greggs… Mhhm, they have wine bars here!!! Etc etc.
    I’m not from the NE, however I’ve lived here for several decades.

  • A low proportion of local students is racist & not a safe place for women of colour!

  • My Daughter was discouraged/told not to apply for York or Durham as she is from the deprived area of Sunderland and she would not be accepted. However she is far from deprived, has only received the lowest maintenance grant available which speaks volumes and is proof she is far from deprived. So unless its due to other establishments trying to hinder students by crushing their dreams to reduce applications or those establishments being in know that students in the local region will not be accepted due to postcode I have no idea. What I can tell you is watching your child tell you they have been told they are not good enough when they are is not the best feeling. She could of been accepted for Durham or York even with COVID Grades. I believe it is selective. Also my daughter was an Oxford Honors Student at High School also.


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