Skip to main content

Vivienne Stern MBE and Professor Karen O'Brien on the balcony of the Palatine Centre

We were pleased to welcome Vivienne Stern MBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK, to visit Durham.

On Tuesday 12 December, Ms Stern spent time with our executive team (University Executive Committee) and visited the Cosmology Machine 8 (COSMA 8) supercomputer.

Universities UK is the collective voice of the UK’s universities, with more than 140 member universities.

Working together for our staff, students and society

Ms Stern spoke with our senior leadership team about recent developments in Higher Education, and challenges and opportunities for the sector.

In particular she spoke about how UK universities have partnered with institutions in Ukraine to mutual benefit. We are twinned with Zaporizhzhia National University (ZNU) in Ukraine. Our partnership includes research collaborations, sharing best practice, and visits, including recently when Professor Olena Tupakhina, Vice-Rector for International Affairs at ZNU, led a delegation to Durham.

Our senior leaders also discussed with Ms Stern: our work to widen access and participation; how we are managing our estate, which includes part of the Durham Castle and Cathedral World Heritage Site; our world-leading research; and our wider student experience, including how we support our students.

Investigating the mysteries of the Universe

Later Ms Stern and our Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O’Brien visited COSMA 8, a supercomputer with the power and memory of 17,000 home personal computers, which we host on behalf of the UK's DiRAC High-Performing Computing facility.

Launched in October, COSMA 8 is helping our scientists and others around the world investigate the mysteries of the Universe. It is funded primarily from UK Research and Innovation, administered by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Vivienne Stern visit to Durham University

Ms Stern said: "Durham has so much to be proud of. It was a genuine privilege getting to see the COSMA 8, and meeting research leaders from the Institute for Computational Cosmology, who are working at the leading edge in a field about to be transformed by the data provided by the Square Kilometre Array.  

"But the most uplifting thing of all was the insight I gained into how Durham supports students from a wide range of backgrounds, including neurodiverse students, to thrive. “

Find out more