By Ryan Gould
Aside from a new cohort of freshers, the University is also extending its welcome to a new Vice Chancellor and Warden this year.
Joining from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he served as Deputy Director and Provost, Professor Stuart Corbridge took up his role as Durham University’s 24th Vice Chancellor and Warden on 1 September.
Professor Corbridge’s appointment marks the first time in Durham’s history that both staff and students were consulted in the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor.
“I am sure that my diary will soon be full of college formals, lectures, concerts, theatrical performances and sports events, and other opportunities to observe – and support – our richly talented student body,” Professor Corbridge wrote in an email to students.
“I know that Durham is a very special university. As well as being a world top 100 university with an impressive research portfolio and excellent teaching standards, our staff, students, colleges, departments, estate, and traditions all combine to make this a wonderful place to study, work and live.
“At the same time, it is clear that I am joining Durham at a time of especially rapid change in the higher education sector, both nationally and globally. Going forward there will be challenges for us to work through together.”
Students might expect Professor Corbridge to confront the issue of rising college accommodation fees, following recent protests — staged by Durham Students for University Reform (DSUR) — at University Open Days, warning students that they “will be stuck in a system of spiraling college rents.”
Standard, catered college accommodation will cost £6,819 in the 2015/16 academic year, marking a 14.5% increase in accommodation fees since the 2013/14 academic year where the same let cost £5,995.
The University said in a statement to Palatinate that “Any accommodation price increases are proposed by Scholarship, Fees and Awards Advisory Group (SFAAG) — where there is student and College representation — to the University Executive Committee (UEC), mindful of predicted costs and the wider market.
“Durham University students continue to enjoy the benefits of a collegiate experience at halls of residence prices.”
At the same time, new research published by MoneySuperMarket last month found that Durham is the UK’s best value university, with Exeter and St Andrews ranked second and third respectively.
According to the study, Durham has the second cheapest accommodation costs at £102 per week, while Warwick was found to be only £9 cheaper at £93 per week. The cost of a pint in Durham was found to be £2.10, less than half the cost in Surrey at £5.25.
The issue of international fees might also be on Professor Corbridge’s agenda, following the University’s decision to fix international tuition fees from the 2016/17 academic year onwards.
The University’s decision followed extensive campaigning by the Durham Students’ Union (DSU) after it became clear that students were being negatively affected by unexpected increases.
In previous years, international students faced increases in tuition fees of around 10%, and were usually unknown at the start of their course.
In a statement to Palatinate, Sally McGill, Durham University’s Chief Financial Officer, said that “it is the University’s intention that the 2016/17 arrangement regarding fees for international students should continue indefinitely.
“Each student will continue to pay the same annual fee as applied in their year of entry, except if they take a break of a year of more from their studies.
“No time limit on this arrangement has ever been discussed or proposed.”
Photograph: Durham University