In a joint statement, the universities confirmed the transfer of the school, which will see Newcastle as one of the few Russell Group institutions able to offer programmes and research in medicine, dentistry, biomedical sciences, psychology and pharmacy. The statement said that the earliest any changes to programmes will take effect will be for the start of the 2017-18 academic year.
The decision follows extensive consultation with staff and students in the Durham University School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health.
Stuart Corbridge, Durham’s vice-chancellor, told Times Higher Education that all staff will transfer from Durham to Newcastle and that there will be no redundancies. Professor Corbridge also confirmed that Durham would cease offering pharmacy and medical courses.
Currently, Durham runs the school’s pharmacy programme solely and shares delivery of the undergraduate medical programme in partnership with Newcastle. He added that the two universities were discussing the possibility of current students, whose studies overlap with the transfer, receiving degrees from both institutions.
“We still need to work out the details between both universities, this is an agreement in principle, between the [university] councils,” Professor Corbridge said.
“We’ve got to work through the full details, but Newcastle’s offer is for all staff to transfer to [them]. Students already on courses that started at Durham, we’re going to work with Newcastle on how they graduate; they might graduate with degrees from both universities.
“Once the transfer is agreed...then Newcastle will be accepting students for pharmacy and medicine but not Durham.”
Professor Corbridge added that although he understood that some staff might have “different takes” on the decision, he hoped that they would largely see this as an opportunity to join an “internationally recognised medical school”.
“Over the course of the next year, as we work with the recognised trade unions...we will work with each individual on the transfer,” he said. “Of course, most of our members of staff, I hope, enjoy working at Durham and feel loyal to the university, but the transfer we’re proposing...is a very attractive one.”
Newcastle's vice-chancellor, Chris Brink, said that his institution was “making a commitment to healthcare in Teesside by investing in teaching facilities in the region”.
“We work closely with Durham in many areas, building collaborations that facilitate world-class research and ensuring the highest quality of education for students,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming staff and students and building on the relationships that already exist.”
A decision as to whether total operational responsibility and costs will be transferred to Newcastle were “subject to negotiations”, Professor Corbridge added, as Durham still has “interest in the health space” through its “pharmacy laboratories” at the school and its offerings in “medical humanities and health economics”.