When Durham University was awarded the title of Sunday Times University of the Year for 2005/06 it was met with little surprise by anyone who knows of this historic institution rooted in the heart of a breathtaking cathedral city.
However, what was merely the latest in an impressive line of high-profile accolades for this acclaimed university was awarded in recognition not just of Durham's incomparable collegiate system, campus setting and pastoral experience, but also for the impact of its research and for the contribution that this unique university community makes to the region, its businesses and the development of our national economy.
Founded in 1832 and celebrating its 175th anniversary next year, Durham University has developed considerable strengths in the traditional subject areas and is organised into three academic faculties: arts and humanities, social sciences and health, and science. Its standing as one of the UK's top universities is founded on a bedrock of world-leading research expertise across a broad range of academic disciplines from criminal law to bio-sciences, renewable energy to public health.
As well as boasting several top-rated academic departments, Durham's research excellence was affirmed in the recent university world rankings published in the Times Higher Education Supplement in which Durham stands 1st in the UK and 18th in the world for science impact.
Roberta Blackman-Woods, Durham City's MP, is a key supporter of the university and in her maiden speech to the House of Commons on May 24, 2005, declared that "Durham University is considered to be one of the best higher education institutions in the country. It is renowned internationally and provides a valued contribution to our civic life."
In March this year, she publicly reaffirmed her support and congratulated the university for achieving additional Government funding to conduct its research: She said: "Durham's research goes from strength to strength and it is widely known in the academic world that Durham is one of the key places to conduct cutting-edge research."
With the backing of a culturally resurgent region and an increasing international profile, Durham continues to invest in its research infrastructure and later this year will inaugurate a high profile research venture, the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS).
The multidisciplinary institute will foster the development of new knowledge at the forefront of various disciplines, attracting the world's greatest thinkers to significantly raise the university's international research standing, and to identify, nurture and harness the world-class potential of Durham's researchers.
The launch of the IAS will complement Durham's existing premier-class research facilities, which include the renowned Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics. When opened by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002, the Ogden Centre was heralded as a major strategic investment in scientific research. It houses two important research institutes: the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) which investigates the origin of cosmic structures and the evolution of the universe, and the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IP3) which studies the fundamental building blocks of matter. …