Durham University worst for social inclusion in England and Wales

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Durham University fell a place in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 to rank 7th nationally, but maintained its position as the best university in the North and North East of England.

However, when it comes to social inclusion, the Guide ranked Durham last out of 115 institutions in England and Wales. 16 of the bottom 20 places in this category were occupied by fellow Russell Group universities; The Times judged Cambridge to be third worst and Imperial was fifth.

The social inclusion rankings take into consideration a number of factors: such as the proportion of students who attended non-selective state schools, mature students, students’ ethnic background, and the number of white working-class males who attend.

According to The Times, only 48.4% of Durham’s students come from non-selective state schools, and 23% are the first generation in their family to attend university.

Wrexham Glyndwr University came first in this ranking for the second year running; 98.4% of the institution’s students come from non-selective state schools, and 58.3% were first generation students.

A Durham University spokesperson said: “We encourage applications from students from all backgrounds with the merit and potential to succeed at Durham.

“Our Access and Participation Plan outlines how we actively support and encourage students from under-represented backgrounds to apply to study with us, with activities ranging from extensive schools outreach work to wider partnership working with schools and other organisations.

“We have made great progress over recent years, such that for academic year 2022/23, around a quarter of our home undergraduate students had been accepted at Durham through our widening access schemes.”

The Guide’s overall rankings are based on topics such as teaching and research quality, student-staff ratios, completion rates, degree results achieved, graduate prospects and overall student satisfaction. The Guide utilises data from the NSS supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Data from the 2022 National Student Survey was also used, due to the 2023 Survey’s late publication.

The Times ranked the University of York as second in the North-East, Sheffield as third, Leeds came fourth and Newcastle ranked fifth. The University of York was also shortlisted for the ranking’s University of the Year accolade.

The higher education landscape has never been tougher.

Helen Davies

Regarding the rankings, Durham said: “We are delighted to announce that Durham University has secured the 7th position in the prestigious Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide. This remarkable achievement reaffirms Durham’s standing as one of the leading universities in the United Kingdom and is a testament to the dedication of our students, faculty, and staff who contribute to our ongoing success.

“Additionally, we are honoured to share that we have earned the title of the top university in the North.

“The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide assesses institutions based on a comprehensive set of eight indicators, encompassing student satisfaction with teaching quality and their overall student experience, research excellence, graduate prospects, the entrance qualifications of our new students, degree attainment, student-to-staff ratios, and degree completion rates.”

Image: Tim Packer