Nearly 40 per cent of Hild Bede are from the Home Counties

– Originally published on The Tab Durham in November 2015 –

How Home Counties is your college?

The Tab can exclusively reveal how many people from the Home Counties are at your college. No surprises for guessing who’s top.

• Hild Bede are the most Home County college.

• Collingwood had a massive 139 students from London and the South East last year.

• There were the same number of students at Aidan’s from the South East as from the entire world outside the UK.

Walking down the Bailey, it seems like the majority of Durham students are from London, with a smattering of Surrey and Sussex thrown in for a little variety.

We asked how many students came from London and the South East, areas dominated by the Home Counties. In figures provided for the last three years, Hild and Bede came out top. A massive 39 per cent of their students are from London and the South East.

Coming in close second was posh college Hatfield, with John’s hot on their tail. Next, both with 32 per cent, were Cuth’s and Collingwood.

Most of the other colleges follow in close succession, with just under a third of students from London and the South East.

Van Mildert and JoBo are the colleges in Durham with the lowest Home County contingent, with a surprisingly low 27 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

Over in Stockton, at the bottom of the pile, are Stepho with 16 per cent and John Snow with 15 per cent.

Last year, Chad’s had just 32 students from London and the South-East, but that’s probably because they are so tiny. Meanwhile, Collingwood is an enclave of southerners, with 139 from London and the SE calling the college home.

Things are different over in the mythical land of Stockton. A smaller percentage of students there are from London and the South-East.

John Snow can boast more students from the North East than from the Home Counties, while just 16% of students at Stephenson are from London and the South East.

The divide between Stockton and Durham is clear, with a greater proportion of students at Durham colleges coming from ‘down South’.

With claims by some that Durham students are out of touch with the reality of living in the north east, these figures won’t do anything to dispute that.

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We spoke to students protesting against the high cost of accommodation

– Originally published on The Tab Durham in November 2015 –

We spoke to students protesting against the high cost of accommodation

It’s really not fair

Durham students yesterday protested outside the Billy B over rising college accommodation costs, calling for the uni to take action.

They called for students to stand united as well as chanting: “We’re fucking freezing, so why aren’t our fees”.

We spoke to students at the protest and asked them why they are protesting. This is what they had to say.

Noah, Cuths
“It is ridiculous how they keep increasing fees – as they say…”

(In the background students are chanting that they can ‘shove their price increases up their arse’.)

Alex, Cuths
“I don’t think a top quality university education should be a privilege of the wealthy.”

Katie, Cuths
“I think Durham has a diversity problem and raising the cost of accommodation could put people off studying at Durham.”

Fred, Aidan’s
“With college fees reaching six to seven thousand, more than many poorer students receive in loans.

“We don’t want an elitist two tier system, excluding people from a college or Durham university experience. I am protesting to keep college fees affordable.

“It is easy to do when 1/3 of fees are ‘non-staff’, not explained what they are.”

Lewis, Mary’s
“Basically I think the fee increase is unjust and exclusionary.”

Lioba, Trevs
“I am protesting to stop the price increases because I think they are very unfair, especially with living grants at £5,500 while college costs are £6,800, increasing from last year.

“It is unfair and doesn’t help students from poorer backgrounds. People from poorer backgrounds may consider not coming to Durham.”

Fred, AIdan’s
“I think it is unfair and unjust. Not everyone can afford to stay in college.”

Frankie, Aidan’s
“I’m the first person to go to uni from my family. Continue like this and that will stop happening. People from disadvantage backgrounds will stop going.”

Alejandro, Aidan’s
“I think that it is a very unfair increase in accommodation and student fees. There is no legitimate reason.”

Jasper, Aidan’s
“It is an unreasonable rise.”

We spoke to the people behind Grey’s tribute to the Paris attacks

– Originally published on The Tab Durham in November 2015-

We spoke to the people behind Grey’s tribute to the Paris attacks

‘I’ve been to the Bataclan. It could have been me.’

Durham stood shoulder to shoulder with Paris, when hundreds of us flocked to Grey to stand in solidarity with the rest of Europe.

The Tab spoke to four French organisers. Oliver, from Paris, Clement and half French Adriana and Sonia who have friends and family in the French capital.

Clément is from Brittany and lives in Aix en Provence. Clément explained that a rivalry usually exists between Paris and the countryside, but in the face of disaster this has vanished: “All French citizens were Parisian this weekend.”

Olivier Morain is a second year at Grey studying Psychology. He lives just twenty minutes from the Bataclan in the eleventh arrondissement.

He told The Tab: “I’ve been to concerts in the Bataclan, taken cafés at La Belle Equipe. The immediate reaction is you fear for your friends and family. Then it is ‘it could have been me.’ It really could have.”

Adriana Thomson, a third year at Hatfield studying Criminology and Sonia Ritsos, a fourth year at Grey studying Chinese both felt desperation on that night.

She said: “We spent a good hour frantically calling everyone and some of our friends we couldn’t get a hold of for a while.

“Our mutual friend graduated from Durham last year and we messaged her first as she’s back there. She told us ‘I was there two hours ago and I’m still in the area.’ I texted her and she didn’t know what was happening, with sirens everywhere.

“My cousin lost a friend of his that he’s known since he was ten years old. You could just think of these young lives with so much ahead of them, so much to live for, taken away for no reason. That’s what makes me so angry.”

Sonia is friends with people who witnessed the attack. She said: “The next day I talked to my mum. Everyone we know is fine but it is scary. My mum had been telling me about attacks in the 80s that happened in Paris and I always thought it was in the 80s – it’s not going to happen again.”

Motivated to act, the four students drew together to plan a commemoration.

Adriana described their desire to make a positive impact in the days after the terrorist attacks.

She told The Tab: “Our motivation behind doing the vigil so quickly afterwards is that we felt such a tremendous amount of pain that we wanted a space where we could express it and others could express it.

“It wasn’t just French people who felt it. Everyone kind of felt it.

“One thing I came to realise is that all of this anger and sadness inside me, I need to use it to make a change.”

At the event speeches were read out, partially in French and partially in English. This was followed by a minute’s silence and a rendition of La Marseillaise, after which anyone who wished to could speak.

The general mood following the vigil is one of determination. Determination that life can carry on and that something positive can happen in the wake of such violence.

Over a third of Durham students came from elite schools

– Originally published on The Tab Durham in November 2015 –

Over a third of Durham students came from elite schools

Confirming what we all knew was true, Durham is dominated by the top schools in the country.

65 students came from Eton in the last three years, where school fees are an incredible £35,721 per year

State funded Hills Road Sixth Form College came top of the pile with 73 students coming to Durham. Next came Wellington College, which can boast George Orwell as an ex-pupil, with 58 students heading North.

Last year we welcomed seven students from Westminster School, the third best independent school for A-level results.

In 2014, 10 students from Edinburgh boarding school Fettes College came to Durham, rejected free uni and decided to pay to come south.

Of the 135 students leaving Magdalen College School last year, a massive 21 of them came to Durham. Over 82 per cent of A-levels at the school are graded A* or A.

While Durham can boast students and staff from 125 countries, we’re lacking in diversity elsewhere. Over a third of undergrads came from independent schools last year.

Coming close behind was Magdalen College School in Oxford, with 45 students, and Charterhouse with 35. Next up was Rugby School, one of the oldest schools in the U.K, with 27.

26 students from the London Oratory School have come to Durham. 22 students a-piece from Winchester College, King Edward VI Grammar School and St Pauls Girls became freshers here. In last place with just 20 students was Epsom College, where boarding fees are a whopping £11,106 per term.

With accommodation fees rising to an all time high, it seems like a steady stream of freshers from the poshest schools in Britain will be heading our way.

Lumiere: let there be light

– Originally published in Palatinate Comment in November 2015 –
Last week, Durham was transformed from a sleepy market city into a hive of activity. The fourth Lumiere arrived, bringing with it thousands of visitors to a city that wasn’t designed to be so crowded.

Only during the annual Miners’ Gala, when most students are back home, have I ever seen so many people line Durham’s streets. While the Miners’ Gala is a celebration of the mining heritage of Durham and its surrounding pit villages, Lumiere is simply a series of art installations bringing light to dark winter evenings.

The disruption caused by Lumiere is perhaps less justifiable, although the experience of watching such a spectacular event weakened my concern over the light festival’s negative effects. After all, during our time in Durham, we will experience just one or two Lumieres.

Visiting Lumiere on the Friday evening, before heading back home for the weekend, was a great experience. I was outside only a few hours and saw quite a few of the displays, from the whale under Elvet Bridge to the black hole consuming the Cathedral during the light show. Once I had seen what I wanted, I was able to walk up North Road and hop on a train, for an undisturbed night in my own bed.

However, it is the residents of Hawthorn Terrace I feel sorry for. While the music emanating from the Cathedral reaches inside of Elvet Riverside and even as far as Whinney Hill, it is just a low hum in the background. You can wash the dishes or procrastinate with the latest episode of your favourite show without much distraction. Over on Hawthorn Terrace, as one resident recently told a student news site, the incessant sound of ‘Home Sweet Home Durham’ is much more of an inconvenience. It seems more than a little unfair that the people living on that street have been singled out for misery during Lumiere. After all, the disruption for most students is restricted to being unable to access their college libraries up on the Bailey from 4.30-­7.30pm. Which isn’t exactly the most devastating of things to happen…

While people working in Durham may struggle to make their way home due to the traffic restrictions in place, Lumiere can only be positive for local shops and restaurants. It is also a good deal for other local businesses. With thousands of people brought to the city centre of Durham over the course of the weekend, stalls were set up outside of cafes and shops selling gloves, light ­up toys, coffee and mulled wine.

The wave sculpture in Fowler’s Yard brought increased footfall to the artisan shops nearby, and I spotted a gorgeous cafe I had never even noticed before. Lumiere has given people an excuse to explore the city, seeing the alleyways and small streets they might otherwise have missed. During the course of the academic year there is much tension between locals and students. Lumiere broke down the divisions between us, if only for a few short days. In the massive crowd standing in the mud on Palace Green, gazing up at the cathedral, you could not see who was a student and who was a local resident. When I spotted the light­-up car on North Road, featuring an iconic symbol from my home town, it reminded me that Durham isn’t really so far from home, it’s just that the city is a bubble, keeping us cocooned inside.

Lumiere burst that bubble and showed the true spirit of the city to us all. Just as during the Miners’ Gala, the people of Durham were brought together. And that is worth all of the disruption in the world.