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A montage of research including a scientist looking through a microscope, a satellite orbiting earth and a man on a mountain

From recognition in global rankings to world-changing research and student achievements, it’s been a highly successful year for us. In the first of a two-part review of 2023, discover some of our highlights from the past 12 months.  

A world top 100 university, with an ambitious, global vision 

This year saw us rise 14 places in the QS World University Rankings 2024, to 78th, and 44 places in the QS World University Rankings for Sustainability 2024, to 19th 

We’ve also refreshed our University Strategy, our vision to 2027. It is built on excellence across research, education and the wider student experience, along with our keen sense of community and dedication to inspiring one another to achieve our potential.  

Supporting our students to achieve the extraordinary 

Our students have achieved extraordinary feats this year, including giving thousands of hours of volunteering to support charities and good causes.

This has included joining a Big Help Out litter pick to mark the coronation of King Charles III, a ‘Snow Angels’ project to clear snow from paths for vulnerable Durham residents and a Festive Food Drive to collect items for families in need.  

We want to support our students as best we can, academically and personally. From this year we’re investing an extra £1.3 million in our student support services, including a new service model and additional staff.

We’ve also increased financial and other support to students affected by cost-of-living increases, including major increases to the Durham Grant Scheme, made to students from lower income households.  

Award-winning staff, students and buildings 

Our community has secured dozens of notable awards and prizes this past year. We were named The Times and Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2023, our Volunteering and Outreach team won an international award for corporate social responsibility and we won a UK Green Gown Award for our Biodiversity Strategy. 

Professor Arlene Holmes-Henderson, from our Department of Classics and Ancient History, was made an MBE by King Charles III; and the Mark Hillery Music Studios at Collingwood College won Project of the Year at the GSS Architecture Oscars.  

Research to empower and inspire 

Our researchers are consistently changing the world, and our understanding of it, for the better. This year our geographers discovered an ancient landscape hidden beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, while our physicists found one of the biggest black holes ever observed.

Our archaeologists found the first evidence that Vikings brought animals to Britain and our sports scientists highlighted misogyny in football.  

Find out more