Undergraduate Life – A brief introduction
St Chad’s prides itself on being one of the smallest and oldest of the colleges in Durham, but we’re also very relaxed and forward-looking. We take the academic side of things seriously, but we also know how to have fun and relax. Our students regularly achieve outstanding academic results, throw themselves into the College’s sporting life, participate in the wide range of Chad’s music – pop, jazz, classical, rock – and somehow also seem to have a great social life too! And we have a generous range of scholarships and bursaries to ensure that students from all backgrounds have fair access to the wide range of opportunities on offer.
Chad’s is set in a beautiful location and we do our best to look after our beautiful old buildings and grounds. We love our seven well-stocked library rooms. Our study bedrooms have been refurbished to a high standard in recent years, and over 67% of them are en suite. Food is important in Chad’s and gets rave reviews from our students.
Much as we love our buildings, our real strength is our students who are at the heart of the College’s community. They come from every sort of background from all over the UK and indeed from all over the world.
There is a good mixture of undergraduates and postgraduates at Chad’s. This is very deliberate: the last thing we want is for our College to be seen as an extension of sixth form. This is an adult community, where members of all ages, staff and students, get to know each other and students at Chad’s — whether undergraduates or postgraduates — have an important say in the running of the College through their student representatives. Because we are an independent college within the University, all key decisions are made locally, and students play an integral part in decision-making and governance at every level of College life.
Being one of the smaller colleges in the University, St Chad’s students try that much harder, and that perhaps accounts for the College’s incredible spirit. We find that a smaller group can be more accepting of differences, and being part of a small community means having regard for each other’s need for privacy and for keeping a respectful distance. We try hard to ensure that people feel free to opt in and out of communal activities as they see fit. Being a community means being respectful friends, not being members of a dominant tribe.
All undergraduates automatically become members of the Junior Common Room (JCR). The JCR organises many aspects of life in College and represents students on all the key college bodies, including the College’s Governing Body. The JCR Executive (the Exec) is elected each year, and it includes such officers as the Social Secretary, the Welfare Officer, and the President of the Bar Committee. The Executive is led by the JCR President. A similar parallel structure exists for postgraduates.
In addition to serving on the Executive, students can be involved in numerous ways in College. Students organize the College’s social events, including the Candlemas Ball and other college balls. They put on plays and concerts; they help write the Alumni Magazine (The Chadsian) and other College publications. Some students are employed during the vacations, and the Libraries and College bars always need staff.
Staff and Exec members meet twice a term for formal meetings, where the emphasis is on effective (and speedy) decision-making. The College is proud of its ability to react quickly to student needs; and, while not everything on everyone’s wish list can be fulfilled, a shared view usually develops among the students and staff.
St Chad’s College is located very close to both the Music Department and the Cathedral, with whom we work closely. Our students put on an annual music series, and there are regular performances of a variety of musical genres.
We have an excellent college choir (20 voices), with organ and choral scholars and several musical ensembles, and there are a number of pianos available in the College for music practice.
We have a steady stream of other visiting scholars. Not surprisingly, we have regular poetry readings and other literary events throughout the year.
St Chad’s is committed to sustaining a College culture in which we support our students in their achievement of the highest academic results and our staff in their engagement with world class research. Through our dual emphasis on research and student-support, the College provides an academically-focussed environment and rhythm of life, where academic activity is clearly and structurally valued. We welcome the most able and the most committed students, no matter their background.
We nurture the links between academic and personal development, chiefly through our tutorial system, our Outside the Box Programme (including support for enterprise initiatives and training), our support for music and the arts, and our international programme — all of which add to departmentally-based learning in a multi-disciplinary collegiate context.
We thrive on challenging one another — students and staff — to face the thorniest issues both in and across particular academic disciplines. We explicitly seek to enhance teamwork, creativity and leadership through our extra-curricular activities and through our engagement with each other, through sports, cultural and religious activities, and beyond, through community engagement, at home and abroad.
- We prioritise the recognition of research activity in each common room;
- We provide our students with outstanding and distinctive opportunities for personal development, enabling future success and employability;
- We strive for a diverse and international student experience.
One of the chief advantages of collegiate life is the opportunity to meet students and staff from other disciplines. Often the best learning occurs in informal settings — over a meal, in the bar, walking into town.
St Chad’s has an enviable sporting tradition: we have our own boat house on the River Wear, and have men’s and women’s teams in almost all university sports.
St Chad’s College has a fitness suite equipped with weights, several rowing machines and other exercise equipment.
Our College prides itself on its pastoral tutor system. In Durham, College tutors (or mentors) are the front-line of student support, and they help students adjust to university and college life. They offer moral support and refer students to the staff support team or to others for specialised support and advice.
Some College tutors are also subject-specialists who can augment the academic support provided by departments: they won’t teach you per se, but they’ll help you to get a handle on the challenges of academic life. Other tutors work outside the University, offering students golden opportunities to discuss career prospects from a world-of-work perspective. At St Chad’s, even though everyone is assigned a particular tutor, students are encouraged to approach any member of the tutorial team, especially to explore career options, but also to seek other forms of advice.
The most important support network is constituted by the students themselves. First year students are all given the opportunity to link up with a more senior student (a student ‘parent’), who will be available to guide them through the wonderful maze of College life, not to mention the maze of cobbled streets around Durham. The JCR student welfare officers are also invaluable to students who need a welcoming and patient ear.
For further information…
For further information about St Chad’s College, spend some time on the rest of our website or contact email@example.com