The Durham college stereotypes, according to this year’s pre-fresh

One respondent didn’t know Van Mildert was a real college until we asked them about it

I, for one, was completely unaware that Durham even had a college system until the day I was due to be sending off my UCAS form. I can still remember my friends’ horror when I told them I hadn’t yet picked one, nor did I really plan to. Immediately I was hit with a flurry of “Do you want the Bailey or the Hill? Do you want traditional or modern? How do you feel about walking?”

So sure, location might come into it, and yes, I was horrified when I typed Mildert into Google Maps after being allocated there. It was stupidly far from both town and my academic department compared to most of the other colleges at the time.

Though they’re not always helpful, many of the college stereotypes feel as old and well-established as the buildings themselves. Hatfield, it seems, is forever destined to be dubbed “the posh one”, and Trevs will always be judged for its, shall we say, unconventional appearance.

But where do these opinions come from? Do we form them once we arrive, or do they stem from hearsay long before we even apply? The Tab spoke with a group of current Durham offer holders due to start in October, to find out how accurate a depiction of each college is being fed to our prospective students. Surprisingly, a fair amount were on the money, though others, not so much…


“A discount St John’s College, Cambridge” – Pearls

“Durham’s answer to Hogwarts. No one can deny it looks super cool, but the only thing you get told about it is that no one gets in” – Laura

“Has a very posh and old fashioned building, so the people must be posh and old fashioned” – Emily

“Beautiful building but supposedly the people don’t have as much character” – Annabel

“Either extremely posh Harry Potter fans or musicians” – Sophie

“People only choose it because they want to live in a castle, and then regret it as soon as they realise they won’t actually get to” – Katie

“International students and horse girls. They either live for the gram or live off the grid” – Lily

St Aidan’s

“St Aidan’s is a nice college but people joke about it being really badly placed. I believe they refer to its location as “arse hill”, because walking up and down it is supposed to work your legs like squats” – Joe

“Everyone who gets allocated here complains about the fact nobody knows the college, though they probably hadn’t heard about it themselves either before they got their allocation” – Sophie

“The character comes from its people, and it’s not many people’s first choice” – Annabel

“Excellent hill views over Durham Cathedral. A long walk up the hill to the college though” – Brandon

“I’ve only ever met one person from Aidan’s, and I think that sums it up” – Jess

“Aidan’s has a supporting role in their own movie” – Lily

St Mary’s

“Mary’s think they’re sick but they have the worst bar” – Nicole

“Not going to lie, they seem a bit irrelevant, and they don’t have the same rep as any of the Bailey colleges. At least they’re not jokingly moaned about like Stephenson, Trevelyan and Van Mildert, though” – Joe

“All girls boarding school vibe. Has a lovely dining room but quite a spooky bar” – Annabel

“Looks lovely from the outside, but I’ve heard it’s a bit grim on the inside. Brings into question whether the phrase “It’s what on the inside that counts” should be applied here” – Laura

“A discount LMH, Oxford” – Pearls

Van Mildert

“Is that the weird hexagon one, or is that Trevs?” – Jess

“Brutalist architectural design buildings” – Brandon

“People tend to be all-rounders, and good at everything” – Annabel

“The college no one applies to, but everyone seems to be allocated to” – Pearls

“Big Head Girl/Head Boy energy. Definitely asked the teacher for homework” – Lily

“Honestly I had no clue this was a college, to be honest” – Harriet

Hild Bede

“Creative, artistic people who want to join a drama or music society at uni” – Sophie

“Awesome views over the River Wear. Convenient to get to Durham City Centre” – Brandon

“Very mysterious. No one knows where it is, what it looks like or who goes there. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has been allocated there” – Laura

“Who actually knows how to spell it?” – Becca

“Oat milk girls and soy boys. Alice bands and curtains” – Lily

“Hild Bede just doesn’t exist” – Katie

St John’s

“Monastic, but kind of in a sexy way?” – Lily

“Religious and posh” – Sophie

“Very cheap bar and a strong Christian Union” – Annabel

“I’ve heard St John’s has a thing for being a religious college but it also has one of the cheapest student bars” – Joe

“The Jesus college” – Katie


“Stephenson is a bit of an L because it’s so far out, but apparently its redeeming quality is that it’s got a bus stop to Newcastle nearby, so it’s got good night life potential” – Joe

“I’ve not heard great things about Stephenson lol” – Imogen

“I don’t know much about this college but they likely have a cup of tea at pres” – Lily

“Friendly” – Emily

South College

“South only cares about having shiny new accommodation” – Imogen

“South College seems like it’ll be jokes. The offer holders for it are determined to make it some party central” – Joe

“I get the sense it will be like NCS but this time it’s legal to drink” – Lily

St Chad’s

“A really cute and small college, so the people must be lovely and it has a nice community- and lots of competition between them and John’s” – Emily

“Seems like a pretty positive and upbeat college somehow” – Rayan

“I get a really wholesome country house vibe from Chad’s. Chad’s students are the ones who walk you back from the club drunk” – Lily

“It seems really low key and chilled out” – Joe


“I honestly don’t know much about Grey- it just seems huge, there’s a lot of people” – Harriet

“I’ve heard it’s the best Hill college- more of a family friendly college” – Becca

“No one preferenced Grey, and so they spend their entire degrees convincing themselves it’s good” – Katie

“So far, it seems like it lives up to its name- a bit nondescript really. I’ve heard they have good toasties though!” – Laura

“A Bailey wannabe” – Pearls


“Hatfield is the posh college, but also one that lots of people low key really want to go to because it’s got a great culture and positioning. It’s admired and reviled in equal measure” – Joe

“The college with the most distinct reputation, which is that everyone is a bit posh, rich and pretentious” – Laura

“Chinos and gap yahhhhhs” – Ellen

“Takes you for dinner on their dad’s card. First one of the group to suggest getting a bag” – Lily

“Hatfield seems rather traditional and has a little bit of a private school vibe. Apparently the people are very lovely” – Annabel

“Hatfield Twatfield” – Bella

John Snow

“More of a religious college” – Rayan

“Kind of pot head-y, kind of committed to studying. They go to all their lectures” – Lily

“I don’t know if it’s just the Game of Thrones connection but this one seems a bit intimidating and exclusive” – Laura

“Literally nobody remembers or notices them” – Sarah

“People who go to John Snow talk way too much” – Sohini

Josephine Butler

“Did Cubs, Scouts and then Gold DofE”- Lily

“Josephine Butler is seen as a bit of an L because it’s self catered and the furthest out, but the bar is supposed to be really good, so that makes up for it” – Joe

“The place where the cool, “woke” students go, but they brag about the fact that they will be cooking for themselves far too much” – Laura

“They’re either someone who wanted a college which has an en-suite (but still has traditions), or they got reallocated from Hatfield and don’t want to go to Durham anymore” – Katie

“So far away up the hill. They seem like the kind of people who think classes are just too far away, so they won’t go, and they live in their own bubble a bit” – Harriet

St Cuthbert’s

“Quite indie and alternative” – Annabel

“They pride themselves greatly on being Jack Edwards’ college” – Rayan

“Kind of incestuous, kind of calm” – Lily

“Cuthbert’s seems to be the all rounder college and is perhaps one of the best placed because of its views” – Joe

“It has a funny name so must have funny people” – Emily


“If it’s the only postgrad only college, it must be full of ridiculously intelligent people” – Emily

“Where even is their college?” – Becca

“The guys probably grow their hair long and have goatees” – Lily

“Pardon, what’s Ustinov?” – Grace


“Smirnoff Ice girls who either have or want a partnership with a leggings company on Instagram” – Lily

“Huge edgy college full of sporty extroverts- sounds slightly intimidating” – Laura

“Sporty and very friendly people” – Annabel

“Pretty strong “lad culture””- Rayan

“Collingwood are the sporty ones and belong to the streets” – Sofia


“Trevelyan apparently have an unhealthy obsession with octagonal designs” – Rayan

“Trevelyan is just all around naff because it looks a bit weird and it’s far out of Durham” – Joe

“They seem to have a good college community and they are music orientated” – Harriet

“The people seem lovely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they pride themselves on being “unique”” – Laura

“Apparently Trevs is full of squares” – Meg