Why Choose Chad’s?

Chad’s in a nutshell:  One of the oldest colleges in the University, St Chad’s is spread out among superb historic locations in the heart of mediaeval Durham. We pride ourselves on maintaining the very highest academic standards, with students studying the whole range of Durham degrees in a relaxed, open, supportive atmosphere. We’re small enough to ensure that our claim to being a community is more than mere rhetoric, but we’re also large enough to be quite a diverse community which gives people scope simply to be themselves, and to make some wonderfully unlikely friendships with people from very different backgrounds.  Chad’s is a wonderful place to learn to see the world from a whole variety of different perspectives – fundamental to being truly educated!

Location: The College is beautifully situated, occupying a dramatic site just a few metres from Durham Cathedral – a World Heritage Site. Beyond the back gardens, the land falls away into the wooded gorge of the River Wear which winds round our high peninsula – once the citadel of the Prince Bishops and a symbol of Norman power.

Academic success: The College has excellent completion rates, and we have extensive library facilities and study spaces of any Durham college.  Each year, Chad’s students achieve outstanding academic results: in 2023, 93% of our students graduated with a 1st or upper second class honours degree.  Our students go on to a hugely varied array of vocations and careers.

Diversity Chad’s students come from all over the UK, from Europe and from all over the world. A majority of our UK students come from the state sector, and anyone who can make the grades is encouraged to apply.  We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to support first generation students and students from under-represented communities in particular.

Size: Perfectly-sized (in our view) at just over 550 students, the College offers students the twin advantages of being part of a small, supportive, historic, inclusive community, while being fully part of one of the best universities in the UK.

International: The College is particularly committed to internationalism, co-sponsoring, for instance, the Ruth First Scholarship, which brings a postgraduate from Southern Africa to study for a year. Hear more from our international students in the video below.


Fantastic Spirit

Community:  Every college says it’s friendly and has great spirit, and that’s no doubt true. But what makes Chad’s just a bit different is not only  the College’s relaxed atmosphere, but the way students and staff work together. At St Chad’s, students share in the actual governance of the College, which is a self-governing institution recognised by the University. Because we share governance with students, there is little of the ‘we-they’ atmosphere you often find in large institutions, and there are countless opportunities to get involved and join, initiate, lead and help to run things.  Chad’s is an enterprising and creative place, always encouraging people to “have a go”.  We have an active college tutor team and a wonderful Senior Common Room and Alumni community who are keen to support our students. This is a real community for real adults – some young and some a bit older – who are keen to take personal responsibility and to make a difference, while still having the time of their lives.

“Chad’s is a small community that allows you to get to know everyone, regardless of age or common room. It is also an academic environment that allows you to reach your potential.”

Alastair – Third Year Computer Scientist  

Sport, Music, Drama, the Arts The College has strong rowing, football, mixed lacrosse, frisbee, hockey and rugby traditions for men and women, and the highest rate for participation in sport in the whole University. There is a well-equipped (characterful) gym in College, which supplements the University’s facilities. The College not only supports sport, but also the arts, offering organ scholarships, poetry readings, music summer schools, and promoting just about everything else you can think of – from a jazz band, choral consort, brass band, strings group, the largest pop choir in the University, and a first-rate college chapel choir, headed by a student Director of Music.

Mind, Body – and Soul  At Chad’s, we take seriously the fact that we are whole human beings and aim to support and challenge each other in an integrated way –  body, mind and soul.  We have a long-cherished chapel with regular services, a fantastic choir and a friendly chaplain who you are as likely to bump into in the bar or dining room as the chapel. We welcome people of all faiths and beliefs and hope that Chad’s will be a place where people can express, explore and question ultimate questions of meaning, belonging and identity and learn from each other in a relaxed and open atmosphere.

Our values  At Chad’s, our motto is “non vestra sed vos” – not what you have but who you are, not yours but you.  We welcome people from all sorts of backgrounds and celebrate each person’s (sometimes quirky) individuality.  At Chad’s,  you will find space to be yourself, and be part of a community that is both supportive and out-ward looking .  We try to live out our commitment to social justice and inclusion in a variety of ways: including our work with local schools, our Internship Programme, our volunteering, and our support of fair trade.

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“I would say the thing I love most about Chad’s is how everyone gets involved with everything, from sport to drama and everything in-between. That is what helped me get settled into College life the best, as I made friends with loads of people in every year.”

Will – Third Year Classicist

What our current students have to say…

Manon Dafydd Jones

“I chose St Chad’s because it’s the smallest (and most beautiful!) Durham College. Coming from a small village in rural Wales and from a relatively small high school, I was looking for a College that was homely, welcoming and with sense of close community. Since coming to St Chad’s, I can assure you that it’s all of these things. As hard as it is to decide, my favourite thing about life in St Chad’s is that everyone knows everyone. As it’s such a small College, you have the opportunity to get to know your whole year group which is a very rare thing in other Colleges. Furthermore, by working College Bar shifts (no previous experience required!) I have made many friends in other years. It’s really comforting to know that you can go anywhere in College and be guaranteed to find a familiar face. It’s not only students that are part of the Chad’s community, but also a fantastic team of staff. Something that really helped me settle in Chad’s was how friendly the staff are, and how much effort they make to get to know every student. There are so many little things that make St Chad’s special, such as Eddie (the Chaplain’s puppy) trying to run into your room, and having a long chat with the porters after coming back from a night out! St Chad’s definitely is a home away from home for me. I have loved every second of my time here, and the diverse and vibrant Chad’s community has really helped me blossom.”

Joe Skaria

“I picked St Chad’s pretty much on a whim because one of my friends had recommended it to me – and yet, despite how uninformed I was, it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken. The College itself is so incredibly beautiful, with the Quad roof and the charmingly quaint libraries always making it a pleasure to walk around – and in terms of its location it’s probably one of the most well situated in Durham, with most of Durham’s clubs, restaurants and cafés within five minutes away. Most of all, however, I’d say that St Chad’s is incredible because of how it feels. When I came to university I was super nervous, and not even sure if I’d made the right choice by coming to Durham, but the smallness and intimacy of St Chad’s has allowed me to thrive – meeting the same people in the dining hall day after day means you get to know pretty much everybody, which very few colleges can match. Whether I’m going down the Bailey to hang out with friends in Queen’s or to the bar to have a quick mid-essay break, I know that there will always be some of my favourite people around. I don’t think I would have felt as secure anywhere else, and that’s allowed me to take risks and try new things with a confidence I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It sounds like a cliché, but I can’t overstate how much Chad’s feels like home.”

Toby Dunne

“I picked St Chad’s as my college due to its reputation as a community-focused college that prides itself on its diverse composition of students, subjects and staff. This, in turn with College’s many social and study places allow for its students to enjoy participating in societies whilst undertaking their academic discipline to a high level. In College, I love that we have a roommate system. This provides you with a close friend from the very start of your time here at Durham, I shared with an exchange student from New Zealand and we remain in touch almost daily! Within College, I have been able to start playing for our football teams, again providing fantastic social and wellbeing opportunities for students. In regards to achieving my potential at Durham, our many College libraries and commitment to academia provide a unique opportunity for developing oneself as a student, something that as a community we take immense pride in. In addition to all of this, our close proximity to Durham Cathedral provides our community with an experience second to none. With town a very brief walk away, you never need to venture far for anything you may need. The same can be said for journeys to either departments or classes with most being within a fifteen-minute walk from College. This is thanks to our prime location within the city on the historic Bailey, a world heritage site, again only adding to St Chad’s unique offering for both its current and prospective students.”

Liberty Rowe

“I chose St Chad’s College because of its focus on outreach and social justice and its inclusive atmosphere. I love how welcoming everyone is and it is a place that has come to feel like a home away from home since I started in 2016. At Chad’s, I have participated in the Charities Committee, been a Freshers’ Rep, worked in the bar and played football, basketball and a few other sports (no experience necessary!). The range of societies and committees have introduced me to lots of friends in different year groups, from around the country and the world. St Chad’s is an incredibly supportive place, where people go above and beyond to look out for each other. This is facilitated by its small size which fosters close connections and a sense of community from day one. While my highlights of college definitely include celebrating Chad’s Day dressed entirely in green and partying at balls, some of my favourite memories are of chatting to my friends in the dining hall, spending sunny days in the garden and getting to know my roommate in first year. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunities to ask questions and participate in debates on big issues in our society on the College’s PERSPECTIVES module, at Research Forums, and in hearing from local charity representatives. Overall, I have loved my experience at St Chad’s College and couldn’t imagine doing my degree anywhere else.”

Hala Heenan

“St Chad’s is such a special place and really does feel like a home away from home. I choose Chad’s because of its small size and friendly nature and have loved my first year at university because of it. The Chad’s community is like no other, and there is something extremely comforting about being able to walk into our dining hall or bar and know everyone there. There are so many sports and activities you can take part in on a college level, even if you have never tried them before. Getting involved in college is a great way to meet new people, not just in your own year but it helps create inter-year friendships as well, which is distinctive for Chad’s due to its small size. In my first year at Chad’s I have played lacrosse, worked bar shifts, performed in our Christmas Pantomime and helped organise the Chad’s Charity Fashion Show. There really is something for everyone to get involved in no matter where your talents lie, and this allows each individual student to flourish. There are lots of social events unique to Chads such as our very own Chad’s Day where everything turns green and our Candlemas Ball which is arguably the best night of the year! I would recommend Chad’s to any student without a doubt. One of our College phrases is ‘small but mighty’ and I think this really epitomises what Chad’s is – a happy community where everyone is welcome!”

Lucy Jameson

“I first visited Chad’s on a summer school residential for local County Durham students, and I immediately felt how welcoming the atmosphere was. Every person I spoke to was so encouraging and friendly, and I knew Chad’s would be somewhere I’d feel happy and comfortable. There are so many things I love about Chad’s that I couldn’t list them all. I particularly love how beautiful the College is, especially the Quad. It’s a lovely open space for any time of year, but my one of my favourite things in Chad’s is the toastie bar! At College I’ve joined netball and rowing, and I’m also a member of the First-Generation Forum, set up to give first generation students a space to talk and find ways to make Chad’s even more inclusive than it already is. This was something I really appreciated coming to university as I was nervous about meeting nobody who had a similar background to me. Chad’s encourages all students to try their hardest, and this is replicated in the numerous study spaces we have, but our core message can be found in our motto – ‘non vestra sed vos’ – not what you have, but who you are. Coming to Chad’s has allowed me to push myself to do things I never imagined I would do. You will carry the friends and experiences you make at Chad’s with you for the rest of your life, and you are always part of the Chad’s community, no matter what.”

Jessica Lloyd

“Visiting Durham University on an open day in year 12, I visited a number of colleges – mostly at random on the walk back from my department talk – and happened to wander into Chad’s on the advice of a friend I’d bumped into. It would be pretty accurate to say that upon walking in, I made up my mind on the spot which college I wanted to apply to! The Cassidy Quad had a very welcoming atmosphere and the abundance of libraries offered a lot of options for study spaces. Two years into my degree and I honestly couldn’t recommend Chad’s more – it’s a fantastic environment for making friends in your first year, and the range of events throughout the year mean that even if you live out in second or third year, you are very much still a part of college. I’m involved in a few College groups – a regular swimmer with the new swimming club, I was also a member of this years’ Social Committee, organising bops, the infamous Chad’s Day and formals, and I am also a part of Chad’s climbing, when I get time. I’m very fortunate to be in receipt of a college scholarship (the Shattock Family Scholarship) which has helped massively with DSU society memberships and general expenses, and I would say Chad’s is great for support generally – whether it be the JCR Welfare Team’s support in exam time, or the Freshers’ Reps around to support Freshers in their first week at university. All in all, it’s a wonderful place to be!”

For information, please email chads.admissions@durham.ac.uk