13 July 2008

Durham University

Durham University is a university in County Durham, England. It was founded as the University of Durham (which remains its official and legal name by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837. It was one of the first new universities to open in England for more than 500 years, and claims to be England's third oldest after Oxford and Cambridge (although other higher education institutions also make this claim. It stands in Durham City, on the River Wear, and in Stockton-on-Tees.

Durham is a collegiate university, with its main functions divided between the central departments of the University and 16 colleges. In general, the departments perform research and provide centralised lectures to students, while the colleges are responsible for the domestic arrangements and welfare of undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral researches and some University staff. Colleges decide which students they are to admit, and appoint their own fellows (senior members). In Durham, "the university" often refers to the University as opposed to the colleges.

In 1992 a joint venture between the University and the University of Teesside saw the Joint University College on Teesside of the Universities of Durham and Teesside (JUCOT) established at Stockton-on-Tees, 23 miles to the south of Durham. This was initially intended to grant joint degrees validated by both institutions (BAs and BScs). However, Teesside, which had only become a university in 1992, had difficulties in taking on its responsibilities for the college and Durham took full control of the new college in 1994.

A programme of integration with Durham began, leading to the college becoming University College, Stockton (UCS) in 1996 — a college of the University of Durham and the only college with teaching responsibilities. Further integration lead to the campus being renamed the University of Durham, Stockton Campus (UDSC) in 1998, removing teaching responsibilities from the College. In 2001, two new colleges, John Snow and George Stephenson (after the physician and the engineer) were established at Stockton, replacing UCS, and the new medical school (which operates in association with the University of Newcastle upon Tyne) took in its first students — the first medics to join Durham since 1963. In 2002, her golden jubilee year, the Queen granted the title "Queen's Campus" to the Stockton site.

As of 2005 Queen's Campus, Stockton accounts for around 18% of the total university student population. This is likely to increase in coming years thanks to future expansion plans.
A curious fact about Queen's Campus, Stockton, is that it is located on the south bank of the River Tees within Thornaby-on-Tees. For centuries the Tees formed the historical division between the historic counties of Yorkshire and Durham, with Thornaby-On-Tees being one of the most northern towns in Yorkshire. With the creation of the county borough of Teesside in 1968 areas both north and south of the river were removed from their historic counties. Teesside itself was engulfed into the County of Cleveland in 1974. Yet another local government change in 1996 saw the breakup of the county of Cleveland into the current four unitary authorities of Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland & Stockton-On-Tees. With this latest reorganisation Thornaby-On-Tees became part of the borough of Stockton-On-Tees, however the town of Stockton-On-Tees itself is located on the north ('County Durham') side of the river. The upshot of all this is that a significant proportion of Durham University is actually located within the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, rather than County Durham. Adding to the confusion, plans exist to expand the campus onto the north bank of the River Tees, splitting the campus between the two historic counties.

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