Skip to main content

Main image is a smiling family of five walking down the front entranceway to Castle College

We’re a global university making a major contribution to the economic, cultural and social vibrancy of North East England. Here’s part one of a two-part report.

1 - Economy 

We’re worth more than £650million to North East England and support more than 17,000 jobs in the region.

One in every 20 people in work in County Durham work for Durham University.  

And we make money go further – for every £1 we receive in income, we generate £4.80 in economic impact for the UK.* 

*Figures from BiGGAR Economics 2022. Worth calculated as Gross Value Added. 

2 - Culture and Heritage 

Durham is a uniquely beautiful, historic city and we’re playing our part in caring for it.  

We’re joint custodians of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Durham Castle and Cathedral.  

The Castle is home to one of our 17 colleges.  

Currently we’re restoring the Castle’s Norman Chapel, which is nearly 950 years old, and we welcome many visits to the Castle through our guided tours. 

We supported County Durham’s bid to be the UK City of Culture 2025 and we’re working with North East England’s five universities on the Heritage X project which aims to harness the region’s heritage assets to unlock economic opportunities. 

We’re also working with partners on a three-year programme of events starting in 2025 called ‘Into the Light’. 

Arts Council England, through the National Lottery, awarded a £1.25million ‘Place Partnership’ award to run the programme of world-class events, skills development, and community-lead activities across County Durham.    

3 – Staff and student volunteering 

Many of our staff and students give up their time to support charities and good causes across North East England, taking on tasks such as community litter picking, caring for animals at local rescue centres and collecting goods for foodbanks. 

They give up a total of 40,000 hours a year, supporting more than 200 initiatives.  

Our students lead around 30 community projects, helping people of all ages, and we support our staff to volunteer in work time for up to five days each year. 

Our staff volunteering team currently work with over 60 local and regional charities including hospices and mental health support, wildlife and animal charities and schools outreach programmes. 

In 2020 we received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) - the highest award given to local voluntary groups in the UK which celebrates organisations that show outstanding work in local volunteering. 

4 - Business 

We work with businesses and other partners to turn academic research into commercial success, support entrepreneurs, and help companies innovate and grow.  

We’re central to the success of NETPark science park, in County Durham, where we host the Orbit university enterprise zone. 

One of our graduate success stories is Kromek, which manufactures equipment for X-ray imaging machines and now employs 150 people, with its headquarters and main production facilities at NETPark. 

Another successful spin-out is Low Carbon Materials (LCM), which was one of three international finalists in the Fix Our Climate category in the world’s most prestigious environmental prize, The Earthshot Prize 2022. 

Low Carbon Materials (LCM) is a climate tech company focusing on developing low-carbon, next-generation construction material alternatives in the race to Net-Zero.   

5 – Major Events and festivals 

We're a major partner in many events that make Durham an exciting place to live, work, study and visit.  

These include the light biennial Lumiere, Durham City Run Festival, Durham Book Festival, Durham Fringe Festival, and Durham Drama Festival. 

Lumiere is now a landmark event in the North East’s cultural calendar and has generated an estimated £37m for the region over the years. 

We’re also a major partner in the Durham City Run Festival which returns for its 8th iteration this July and is set to attract around 3,000 runners to Durham. 

Find out more