Durham (City/Town) (GB)
£41,526 - £49,553
Nov 26, 2019
End of advertisement period
Jan 02, 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

Vice-Principal (x4) 

Job Number: 19000079

PVC Colleges & Student Experience Office

Grade 8: - £41,526 - £49,553

Open-Ended/Permanent - Full Time

Contracted Hours per Week: 35

Unposting Date: 02-Jan-2020, 11:59:00 PM 

College Vice-Principals

Durham University is a world top 100, research intensive University, which prides itself on providing an education and a wider student experience that is on par with the very best institutions worldwide. Durham is also a proudly collegiate university, with 16 colleges located across Durham City, a new 17th college (South College) due to open in 2020 and others to follow up to 2027. Our interdisciplinary residential college communities, to which all students belong, make Durham a highly distinctive place to study and engage in the wider student experience – including all dimensions of student life beyond the curriculum. Each college has in the region of 1,000 students, a sizeable proportion of whom are in residence, making them human-scale communities within the broader University. We are looking to appoint four College Vice-Principals, for three of our existing colleges as well as for the new South College.

Our University Strategy sets out a bold vision over ten years that builds on our reputation for excellence in education, research and the wider student experience. Our colleges, alongside the Students’ Union and Experience Durham, are an important part of what makes us different and are critical to driving the University’s ambitious strategy to deliver a student experience as good as any in the world – an experience in which students’ individual personal development is accelerated by being challenged to participate to the fullest in the extraordinary range and number of opportunities available within the colleges and beyond.

Reporting directly to the Head of a College, the Vice-Principal is responsible for implementing the College’s strategy for student development and works with the Head in furthering the College’s future development. The Vice-Principal supports the Head of College:

  • in the financial, strategic and HR management of the College, and in annual planning processes;
  • in ensuring the College offers a supportive and stimulating environment for academic study, cultural and developmental activities, and social interaction which engages students, staff, Senior Common Room members, visitors and alumni;
  • in enriching students’ development through encouraging participation and leadership in activities such as sport, music, theatre and volunteering, and co-ordinating programmes of alumni engagement with the College; and
  • in promoting values of community and responsibility among all students.

In partnership with the University’s Student Support and Wellbeing Directorate, he or she also oversees the provision of first‑line student support within the College and plays an important role in student conduct and discipline processes.

The closing date for applications is 02 January 2020 and interviews will take place on Friday 17 January 2020. Further information on the collegiate system at Durham can be found at this link. More information on the four Colleges to which we are recruiting can be found below.

Stephenson College, named for the railway pioneer George Stephenson, is one of the newest colleges in the University, having been founded in 2001 at Queen’s Campus in Stockton-on-Tees. Along with the University’s other academic activities at Queen’s Campus, it has recently relocated to Durham City and is now putting down roots in its new home. Its Principal is establishing a refreshed strategy for the College based around the three characteristics of innovation, an international outlook, and a commitment to civic responsibility.

St Mary’s College takes pride in its core values of achievement, diversity, equality, integrity, respect and wellbeing. The College was a women’s college from its foundation in 1899 until it became co-educational in 2005; building on a founding ethos of promoting education for those who were not born to that privilege, St Mary’s continues to promote social justice and equality in education. It is renowned for its warm and welcoming community, and is a very popular college both for undergraduates and postgraduates.

South College is the University’s newest college, due to open its doors in September 2020, and will be the first newly established college since 2006. The Principal is already in post, and is establishing a brand identity for the College inspired by exploration and discovery. The College’s staff team will be assembled through the course of the 2019/20 academic year, with the Vice-Principal being one of the most critical appointments. The University is offering current students at other colleges the chance to transfer across and become part of the founding South College community.

University College, known to most as ‘Castle’, is Durham University’s founding College, and is principally housed in Durham Castle. The Castle, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back in construction to 1072, and was gifted by Bishop William Van Mildert, the University’s founder. The College is highly popular among undergraduate applicants, but also has one of the strongest postgraduate communities at Durham and a wide alumni base.

Core responsibilities:

  • Provide expertise aimed at furthering the College, Division and University Strategy, especially in relation to the personal development of students, and oversee the provision of student support in partnership with the Student Support and Wellbeing Directorate.
  • Manage and develop service, infrastructure and people performance across one or more teams.
  • Provide feedback on team and individual performance and identify development needs, conducting regular staff ADR and performance reviews.
  • Recruit, induct, train and develop new team members.
  • Help to shape the skills and expertise of future team members and design work structures to meet operational and strategic goals.
  • Handle the vast majority of HR issues within their team, referring more complex HR issues to appropriate support services/senior management.
  • Liaise and engage with key stakeholders and internal and external contractors to influence opinion, delivery and reputation of services.
  • Contribute to the scoping and resource planning across a range of activities at operational and possibly strategic level.
  • Lead on the design, implementation and monitoring of policy and quality standards, procedures and systems to ensure effective working and continuous improvement.
  • Promote and develop a deep understanding of organisational policy and external developments.
  • Devolve responsibilities to team members to ensure continuity of service provision and encourage skills development.
  • Ensure all activities, processes and transactions are accounted for accurately and promptly to meet regulatory and professional service and policy standards.
  • Ensure all stakeholder-facing staff provide an accessible, friendly and professional service by shaping processes for inducting and developing staff.
  • Implement processes to manage the integrity and security of all commercially and professionally sensitive and personal data.
  • Lead internal business meetings, working groups and sub-committees at operational service level to influence governance, organisational policy and standards for the service.
  • Responsible for allocating and monitoring financial budgets and resources.
  • Analyse stakeholder feedback, implementing and reviewing service provision. 

Role responsibilities:

  • Lead the development of appropriate structures, procedures and initiatives for maximising students’ personal development and (in partnership with the Student Support and Wellbeing Directorate) optimising student support within the College.
  • Develop and maintain a vibrant and distinctive community in which students are able to grow and develop in confidence academically, socially and culturally.
  • Develop external relations, identifying and developing opportunities for communities of practice, employers, alumni and donors to contribute to the College via extra-curricular activities and increased levels of participation.
  • Build and sustain an influential network of contacts both internally and externally to influence and promote the reputation of the College and the University.
  • Contribute to the definition, development and implementation of service standards.
  • Deliver a specialist service using creativity and innovation for communication and promotion purposes, to engage and influence internal and external stakeholders.
  • Provide professional guidance and advice to students and service users with complaints and referrals.
  • Take responsibility for student disciplinary matters in consultation with the College Principal, liaising where required with relevant support departments.
  • Represent the College and University at promotional events, marketing them effectively to potential student applicants, parents, schools and sponsors; contribute to the delivery of presentations at conferences.
  • Deliver activities and participate with others to generate external income.
  • Any other reasonable duties.

Specific role requirements

  • Being an integral and visible member of the College Community and working some evenings and weekends to support the delivery of College activities and initiatives as appropriate.
  • Participating in rota duties for the provision of Emergency Cover at the discretion of the College Principal.
  • Holding responsibility for leading the College in the absence of the College Principal.

Recruiting to this post 

In order to be considered for interview, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification above (including those listed in the section ‘Realising Your Potential Approach’).  

In some cases, the recruiting panel may also consider the desirable criteria, so we recommend you evidence all criteria in your application.  

Please note that some criteria will only be considered at interview stage.

How to apply 

We prefer to receive applications online.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.dur.ac.uk/ig/dp/privacy/pnjobapplicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.

What you are required to submit

1. A CV; 

2. A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;

3. Examples of how you satisfy both the person specification and the Realising Your Potential Approach criteria. This may require completion of the 'Supporting Evidence' application section if specified by the recruiting manager. Please ensure you give detailed examples of how you meet these criteria if requested.  

Please ensure that you submit all documentation listed above or your application cannot proceed to the next stage.

Contact details 

For further information please contact:

Professor Rob Lynes, Principal of Stephenson College and Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global) (robert.c.lynes@durham.ac.uk)

Professor Maggi Dawn, Principal of St Mary's College and Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion (maggi.dawn@durham.ac.uk)

Professor Tim Luckhurst, Principal of South College and Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) (timothy.c.luckhurst@durham.ac.uk)

Professor Graham Towl, Acting Principal of University College and Professor in the Department of Psychology (univcoll.head@durham.ac.uk)

At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system.  Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails.

Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required

Essential Criteria:

Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop effective working relationships, both internally and externally.

Proven IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office.

Educated to degree level (or equivalent experience) and a track record of achievement in a recognised academic or comparable field.

Knowledge and expertise in student development and support.

Ability to contribute to planning at operational and strategic levels.

Willingness to undertake continuing professional development in the field of student development and support.

Experience of being able to network effectively and develop strong and productive working relationships, to influence perceptions of the University.

A good understanding of higher education in the UK and an appreciation of the role of colleges in a collegiate University.

A commitment to issues of diversity, equality and internationalisation.

Essential Criteria:

Experience of working in a multi-cultural environment and an understanding of needs of individuals from minority groups.

Track record of management and development experience.

Knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines.   

Experience of providing specialist advice and guidance to a range of customers and colleagues, including students and more senior colleagues.

Realising Your Potential Approach


1. Coaching and mentoring others to enhance own skills and those of others.

2. Providing creative work opportunities to stretch and develop colleagues.

3. Encouraging others to contribute to institutional level activity.


1. Establishing challenging standards to develop services and advance the reputation of the University

2. Interpreting rules and regulations flexibly to balance customer and University needs

3. Consistently giving positive messages about the University


1. Acting as a role model to others by setting high personal standards in both verbal and non-verbal communication.

2. Respecting confidentiality and demonstrating sensitivity if a team member wishes to discuss an equality and diversity issue with you and then taking appropriate action.

3. Ensuring communication with the team is regular, clear and consistent to create an open, transparent working environment.


1. Creating a climate that encourages innovation and receptivity to change.

2. Communicating upwards to influence policy formulation.

3. Proactively scanning the wider external environment to seek opportunities to develop the University.


1. Exercising judgement in line with University strategy and priorities.

2. Actively seeking new ideas and approaches from outside the University.

3. Identifying and pursuing opportunities to work in partnership with external organisations to generate and develop ideas.