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Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, stood smiling with arms folded, in front of bookshelves

Our Vice-Chancellor Karen O'Brien explores how our global work benefits our local communities.

Durham is a world-leading university, and our research is changing the lives of people right around the globe. Recently we were ranked 53rd in a worldwide league table of universities for sustainability, and our contribution to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And that came quickly after four of our subject areas, Arts and Humanities, Law, Education and Social Sciences and Health, were ranked in the world’s top 100 in the Times Higher Education World Rankings by Subject.

Moral costs of the war in Ukraine

An important part of our global outlook is our support for Ukraine. We have registered with the Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, we’re working with partners including Durham County Council (DCC) on humanitarian issues, providing translation services and via the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) we’re supporting fellowships for researchers at risk in their home country. We also have a twin university in Ukraine, Zaphorizhzhia National University (ZNU), where we’re providing short- and long-term support.

On Friday 11th November, with ZNU and DCC we’re hosting the second in a series of public discussions about Ukraine. Titled ‘The Moral Costs of War in Ukraine’, this event will focus on the moral injury created by the war, both for combatants and civilians. It will take place at the Gala Theatre, Durham, from 5.30pm. Tickets are available via the Gala.

Global outlook, local events

Alongside that global outlook, we are a North East university and Durham’s university. It was wonderful to welcome many, many visitors to our Celebrate Science hands-on science festival and Community Fun Day, both held on Palace Green during the October half-term break. Find out more about our work in the local community by signing up to receive our monthly Community Newsletter. 

You may have seen or read recently of some concerns around student housing in the city. Many universities have had to cope with accepting many more undergraduates than they had planned for in 2021, due to Government changes to the A-level boundaries. However, I want to emphasise that we have reduced our student intake this year and plan to do so again next year and that, based on our plans and our knowledge of the city, there is enough accommodation in Durham for the next academic year.

We’re working closely with partners including Durham County Council, letting agents, private landlords and elected representatives, as well as student leaders, on these matters, and we’ve made information available on our website.

Our objective here is to support our students as much as we can, as we’re also doing on issues around cost-of-living. Working with the Students’ Union, we’ve invested significantly in bursaries and hardship funds to support students who are under financial pressure. Again, there’s more information on our website.

Related links
- Read more about our success in the QS World University Rankings for Sustainability
- Find out how we did in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject
- Get your ticket for 'Moral costs of the war in Ukraine'