Is Britain’s third oldest uni to scrap Oxbridge-style colleges?

“We’re Doxbridge not Dork!”: Durham college system set to weaken as Vice Chancellor proposes Phase 1 of his plans to lower costs.

In the last week, proposed changes to the management structure of the University have arisen as part of a review of ‘Accommodation and Services’ at Durham.

It seems that these could be the start of some fairly major changes given that the Vice Chancellor is referring to them as ‘Phase 1’.

The changes will:

  • Aim to centralise much of the University’s service provision
  • Remove management members of college office, such as the Bursar
  • Remove budgetary power from the Master

“The proposed changes have the potential to weaken the collegiate system and undermine the relationships between college office and students that make up the fabric of our communities”, said one college president.

The proposed changes reportedly include an attempt to centralise porters and cleaners

“I am concerned that these changes will destabilise the strong relationships that we have with our college office and our college staff. It is these relationships which allow the JCR to run events, clubs, societies and services exactly how we want them.”

The Vice Chancellor has now acknowledged this concern and has asked that college presidents outline specifically how these changes will affect student welfare and satisfaction.

Durham’s vice-chancellor, Chris Higgins, who recently received a pay rise of £21,000

Yesterday a letter (see below) was put together as a unified JCR Presidents’ response to these proposals, writing to the Vice Chancellor to express their deep concern for these changes.

They await a response to these specific concerns this week, and Presidents claim that if they are unsatisfied with the response, they will then engage in due protest.

It is said that the Union are also deeply against the changes.

“We should keep colleges! We’re Doxbridge not Dork!” one student told The Tab over fears Durham’s collegiate system could become as arbitrary as York’s.

There are fears that the proposed changes will lead to a ‘halls of residence’ model, similar to that of other universities

Queen’s Campus have a similar system to the one proposed. One fourth year student said “it’s disgusting” that Durham colleges could fall to the same fate.

One second year Anthropology student considered the financial impact this would have on students: “We do have too many staff in college. They should lower college fees if they are going to be disbanded though.”

There are also reports of far fewer college events

One college exec member predicted “one formal a term” under the new system.

See extracts from the letter below:

The current collegiate system “encapsulates everything that is fantastic and unique about Durham University”

The letter pointed out the ways in which the proposals would negatively affect college life

Would students receive their value for money?

Presidents pointed out that it is the college system that makes Durham “so different and special”

It is clear that students were not made aware of any potential changes until now and there are worries that departments may become unresponsive and less interactive.

More information should come to light with regard to the Vice Chancellor’s response.