The future expansion plans of Durham University, including the potential impact of Brexit, were highlighted to North East England Chamber of Commerce members at the County Durham AGM and review.
Held in the historic Chapter House in Durham Cathedral the meeting started with the re-election of Brian Manning, Esh Group as Chairman and Mike Wade, Hodgson Sayers as Vice Chair.
The AGM guest speaker was Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor, Durham University, who set out the context for the institution’s growth, building on its £350m operation, with 17,500 students.
He said: “We have a world class research record and are a proud member of the Russell Group of Universities. Our ambition going forward is to ensure we stay at the forefront of research, education and the wider student experience and we will channel funding into supporting this ambition.
“The ‘Brexit’ situation is a concern for us with our international students. We currently have 21% of our students from outside the EU with the ambition to grow this to 29%, so we will be watching closely what the Government plans are in relation to this.
“In order to plan our estate for this future expansion we will be creating at least four new colleges, which for the first time will not be funded by us. This will enable the University to invest in our core academic business and achieve our ambition to increase our student numbers to 21,000.”
Mike Wade reviewed the year and said: “We had a great variety of visits as part of the County Durham committee’s activities in 2016 including a visit to Northumbrian Water to hear more about their sector’s deregulation and a discussion on Better Health at Work at Seaham Town Hall.
“Throughout the year the value of the Chamber, as a network, has been more and more apparent, especially with all the changes taking place at present. The Chamber has an important part to play in helping businesses tackle these challenges and to take any issues raised up to national policy level. It is a powerful asset as it gives us an opportunity to network with our peer groups in so many different sectors including manufacturing, recruitment, utility and third sector organisations.”
The guests were welcomed to the Chapter House by Canon David Kennedy of Durham Cathedral.