The Colleges of Durham University are residential colleges that are the primary source of accommodation and support services for undergraduates and postgraduates at Durham University, as well as providing bursaries and scholarships to students. They also provide funding and/or accommodation for some of the research posts in the University. All students at the University are required to be members of one of the colleges.
Durham University has 17 colleges, of which University College is the oldest, founded in 1832. The newest college is South, founded in 2020. The last single-sex college, St Mary's, became mixed in 2005 with the admittance of male undergraduates. One college, Ustinov, admits only postgraduates.
Durham operates a collegiate structure similar to that of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, in that all colleges at Durham, being constituent colleges of a "recognised body", are "listed bodies" in the Education (Listed Bodies) (England) Order 2013 made under the Education Reform Act 1988. The "recognised body" in this case is Durham University. Though most of the Durham colleges are governed and owned directly by the University itself, and so do not enjoy the independence of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, the status of the Durham colleges is similar to those in Oxford and Cambridge, setting Durham colleges apart from those at the universities of Kent, Lancaster, and York. However, unlike at Oxford and Cambridge (and federal universities such as London and the University of the Highlands and Islands), there is no formal teaching at most Durham colleges (although St John's and St Chad's have their own academic and research staff and offer college-based programmes in conjunction with the University). The colleges dominate the residential, social, sporting, and pastoral functions within the university, and there is heavy student involvement in their operation.
Formal dinners (known as "formals") are held at many colleges; gowns are often worn to these events. There is a great deal of intercollegiate rivalry, particularly in rowing and other sporting activities. There is also rivalry between the older colleges of the Bailey and the newer colleges of the Hill.
The University is collegiate in structure. There are four different sorts of college: Maintained Colleges and Societies, Recognised Colleges, Licensed Halls of Residence, and Affiliated Colleges.
The University validates degrees at other colleges not recognised under any of the above categories. Current arrangements include the validation of the Church of England's Common Award at a number of theological colleges. The Royal Academy of Dance also used to teach courses leading to degrees validated by Durham.
The five Bailey colleges are located in historic buildings on The Bailey, the peninsula around the castle and cathedral that forms the historic centre of Durham. They include most of the older colleges of the university.
The Hill colleges are located in purpose-built buildings on Elvet Hill to the south of the city, close to the Mountjoy site which houses most of the university's departments and central facilities. The first hill college was St Mary's, which moved in 1952 from the Bailey. All new colleges founded in Durham since then have been on Elvet Hill, and as of 2020 houses it eight colleges, with two more under construction.
Two colleges do not fit into this grouping: the College of St Hild and St Bede, formed in 1975 as a merger of two Victorian teacher training colleges, is located along with the Education Department on Gilesgate, on the opposite side of Durham from Elvet Hill. Ustinov College, the university's only postgraduate-only college, is based at Sheraton Park on the same side of the city as Elvet Hill but further from the city centre, which was formerly the home of Neville's Cross College.
Some colleges also have accommodation in other parts of the city, most notably St Cuthbert's Society, which has its headquarters on the Bailey but its largest accommodation blocks at the end of Old Elvet, across the river from St Hild and St Bede.
Since 2018 when university teaching at the university's campus in Stockton-on-Tees finished, all colleges have been located in Durham City.
The student numbers in the table below are up to date for the 2010/11 year.
U = Undergraduates, P = Postgraduates, F = Female, M = Male
|Shield||College||Location||Founded||U||P||P/U Ratio||% F||% M||Total||Website||Notes|
|Hatfield||Bailey||1846||1069||260||0.24||50%||50%||1329||||Hatfield Hall until 1919.|
|John Snow||Hill||2001||705||3||0||60%||40%||708||||Founded at Queen's Campus. Moved to Durham in 2017, and to current site in 2020.|
|South||Hill||2020||492||||Expected to grow to 1200 students by 2024.|
|St Aidan's||Hill||1947||874||316||0.36||43%||57%||1190||||Women home students from 1895; St Aidan's Society 1947-1961.|
|St Chad's||Bailey||1904||409||150||0.37||55%||45%||559||||Recognised College. St Chad's Hall until 1918.|
|St Cuthbert's Society||Bailey||1888||1234||174||0.14||51%||49%||1408|||
|St Hild & St Bede||Gilesgate||1975||1123||213||0.19||52%||48%||1336||||Merger of the College of the Venerable Bede (1838) and St Hild's College (1858). Recognised College until 1979.|
|St John's||Bailey||1909||508||211||0.42||53%||47%||719||||Recognised College. St John's Hall until 1919.|
|St Mary's||Hill||1899||761||210||0.28||55%||45%||971||||Women's Hostel until 1920.|
|Stephenson||Hill||2001||830||68||0.08||54%||46%||898||||Founded at Queen's Campus. Moved to Durham City in 2017.|
|University||Bailey||1832||890||442||0.5||52%||48%||1332||||Commonly known as Castle.|
|Ustinov||Sheraton Park||1965||0||1221||–||51%||49%||1221||||Postgraduate-only. Graduate Society until 2003. Moved to current site in 2017.|
The senior member of each college is an officer known generically as the Head of College or Head of House. His or her specific title varies from college to college as indicated in the list below, but there is no particular significance to the variation. The heads of the maintained colleges are also part-time members of an academic department.
A number of colleges have been part of Durham University but have since folded or cancelled their association with the university.
Durham University currently recognises seventeen colleges. However, since its foundation in 1832, a number of other colleges have been part of the university. Two of these have become completely defunct; others have ended their association with the university, or left to become independent institutions of their own.
Bishop Cosin's Hall on Palace Green was opened as the university's third college in 1851. However, a collapse in student numbers in the late 1850s and 1860s meant the university was unable to sustain three colleges at the time, and it was merged into University College in 1864. The building (which had also been the original home of University College before it moved into the castle) is still owned by the university, and was used by University College until 2006, after which it became the home of the Institute of Advanced Study in January 2007.
Neville's Cross College was opened in 1921. It was primarily a teacher-training college, but from 1924 it was also a licensed hall of the University and admitted students to read for both undergraduate courses and postgraduate degrees.
The college merged with Durham Technical College in 1977 to form New College Durham, whereupon it ceased to be associated with the University. The former site of the college in Sheraton Park became home to the University's Ustinov College in 2017.
Ushaw College was a Catholic seminary located in Ushaw Moor, a village to the west of Durham. It was opened in 1808 by scholars who had fled from Douai, France, when English College was forced to close during the French Revolution. It affiliated with Durham as 'Licensed Hall' in 1968, though it retained its role primarily as a seminary. It shut as a seminary in 2011 due to a declining number of vocations in the Catholic Church, but remains recognised as a licensed hall in the University's statutes. Part of the college is now used by Durham Business School, and it is also used for conferences and lectures by the Department of Theology and Religion.
In 1852, the School of Medicine and Surgery (founded in 1834) in Newcastle upon Tyne was absorbed into the University of Durham as the College of Medicine, allowing students to study for the Licence in Medicine in Durham, after which students could practise Medicine and take the degrees of Bachelor and Doctor in Medicine. At the same time, Neville Hall was opened in Newcastle 'for the reception of Students in Medicine'. The Hall closed at the end of the academic year in 1855/56. In 1871, the College of Medicine was joined by the College of Physical Science, later renamed Armstrong College.
Relations between the two campuses were often strained. They became two autonomous parts of the same university, with the Newcastle colleges merging to become King's College in 1937. In 1947 a proposal to rename the university as the "University of Durham and Newcastle" was approved by all the governing bodies, but was defeated at convocation by 135 votes to 129 in the spring of 1952. This defeat led to King's College eventually leaving the university, to create the new University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1963.
|Development of the Newcastle Colleges of Durham University|
|School of Medicine and Surgery
|Newcastle upon Tyne College of Medicine,
in connection with the University of Durham
|Durham University College of Medicine
1937 - 1963
|College of Physical Science
|Durham College of Science
Sunderland Technical College was affiliated to Durham from 1930 to 1963 in the Faculty of Applied Science, and was thus associated with the Newcastle division of the University. When the Newcastle division became Newcastle University in 1963, Sunderland's affiliation with Durham ended. In 1969 the Technical College merged with Sunderland Teacher Training College and the Sunderland School of Art to form Sunderland Polytechnic (now the University of Sunderland).
Originally established in 1992 as the Joint University College On Teesside (JUCOT), a limited company established as a joint venture between Durham and the University of Teesside operating under the name of University College Stockton, this became a teaching and residential college of Durham in 1994 as University College Stockton (UCS), the JUCOT company being wound up. In 1998 the teaching and residential aspects were separated, with teaching becoming the responsibility of the University of Durham, Stockton Campus. In 2001 UCS was replaced by two new colleges, Stephenson and John Snow.
Durham University has had two affiliated colleges outside England. Of these, Fourah Bay College is a former part of the university, having ended its affiliation in 1967. It became a constituent college of the University of Sierra Leone on that date. The other affiliate, Codrington College, remained listed as an affiliated college until removed in the revision of the University's statutes approved by the Queen in Council on 13 July 2011.
The College of St Hild and St Bede was formed from the merger of two separate colleges in 1975. The College of the Venerable Bede (usually known as Bede College) had been an all-male college formed in 1838, with St Hild's College formed as an all-female college in 1858. The merged college continued as a recognised college until 1979, when it was taken over by the university and became a maintained college. Prior to this, the two colleges had specialised in the teaching of education; on becoming a maintained college the teaching part of Hild Bede was separated from the college to become the university's School of Education.
The Graduate Society became a full college in 2003 and was subsequently renamed Ustinov College. The Home Students Association (for non-collegiate women) became St Aidan's Society in 1947 and subsequently St Aidan's College in 1961. Hatfield College was originally established as Bishop Hatfield's Hall, taking on its current name in 1919. St Mary's College was founded as the Women's Hostel, becoming a college and taking its current name in 1920.
Stephenson College (originally George Stephenson College) and John Snow College were created in 2001. They replaced the original University College Stockton and were located on the Queen's Campus at Stockton-on-Tees.
Jesus College and Coverdale Hall are the settings for the events in Angels and Men, Durham alumna Catherine Fox's first novel (published by Hamish Hamilton in 1996). The location is nowhere stated explicitly, but it is obvious to anyone familiar with the city and the university that it takes place in Durham; Jesus and Coverdale are modelled (very closely) on St John's College and Cranmer Hall.
(k) "Head of College" means the Master or Principal of a maintained College, a recognised College, or a Licensed Hall of Residence.
Alumni of Durham with Sunderland matriculation were entitled to be part of this University’s Convocation as, at the time of the creation of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the Technical College in Sunderland was, by the Statutes in force for the federal University, an affiliated college of the University of Durham in the Faculty of Applied Science – which was based in the Newcastle Division. The Statutes stated that any change to those Statutes must be ‘without prejudice to the rights of any students who are members of the University’ at the time the change was made. As students from Sunderland Technical College were entitled to be members of the Convocation of the federal University it would have prejudiced them if they were not allowed to be members of the Convocation of the new University of Newcastle upon Tyne since they were in the same position as those students in Statute 42 (2) – ie those who had been registered students of the Newcastle Division of the University of Durham before the appointed day’;