Re: “Durham’s colleges fear changes will downgrade them to halls of residence”, News, February). This has been a bone of contention for 40 years. It’s time the university differentiated itself properly by investing in the college system to make Durham distinctive. Properly supported, without duplicating services and wasting resources, they could be as vibrant a collection of academic communities as any world-class university – but with their own particular character.
Invest; do not downgrade to lower common denominators! The market in undergraduate education will reward the segmentation of Durham even higher up the academic leagues.
It is not enough to just say that there is no threat to the colleges, to what makes them unique and special, if you aren’t able to demonstrate that you understand how the qualities that you wish to preserve are created and composed. The loyalty of staff to their colleges and the commitment to the welfare of the students they demonstrate is to my mind (I’m a member of college staff and an alumnus) definitely one of them. The university cannot keep chipping away at the colleges and expect them to remain the same. It is possible to undermine the colleges without having a policy to undermine the colleges.
There is opposition to these proposals across the institution, from staff and students. Whether they will be listened to remains to be seen.