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Vice Chancellor Karen O'Brien smiling resting on a bannister

North East England is about to get its first elected mayor. Here at Durham University, we’ve been part of the region for nearly 200 years. Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen O'Brien, explores our contribution to the region.

We are proudly part of the region, and here to serve the region.  

We’ve recently published a rundown of ten ways we contribute to the economic, cultural and social vibrancy in the North East.  

On the economy, we’re worth more than £650 million a year to North East England and support over 17,000 jobs.

On culture and heritage, we’re just custodians with Durham Cathedral of the Durham World Heritage Site, and are currently restoring the 950-year-old Norman Chapel in Durham Castle. 

On volunteering, our students give 40,000 hours a year to charities and good causes, and we encourage our staff to volunteer in work-time, for up to five days each year.  

Ambassadors for the region

We’re focused on supporting the regional economy, with leading firms Kromek and Low Carbon Materials among our success stories.

Our graduates go on to achieve great things both locally and globally, all the while acting as ambassadors for our city, county and region – a great example of how being a global university brings benefits for here at home.  

We’re involved in most of the major events and festivals that light up the calendar: Lumiere, Durham City Run Festival, Durham Book Festival, and more.  

We work with schools and others to raise aspirations of young people in our region.

We invest £14 million every year in supporting less advantaged students reach and thrive at university.

One in four of our UK undergraduates now come to us through a widening access scheme.

We have the highest offer rate to the most disadvantaged students of any Russell Group university.

Life-changing research

Our research transforms lives for the better, from using the heat from the region’s abandoned coal mines to heat homes, to developing ever better teaching methods.  

We’re working with partners to enhance health and wellbeing.

Nearly 3,000 people visit our Maiden Castle sports facilities every week, and we’ve recently announced the appointment of Professor Charlotte Clarke as our first Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health.  

And we’re pleased to welcome many, many visitors to our attractions including the Oriental Museum, Botanic Garden and Palace Green Library.  

As we enter a new era of local governance, we’re committed to working with business, partners and communities to ensure a thriving region in the years to come. 

Find out more