NORTH AMERICAN PARENTS GUIDE
North American Parents Guide
About Durham University Founded in 1832, Durham is the third oldest university in England and one of the UK’s most prestigious. Based around a 10th century cathedral and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we may be traditional in stature but Durham has always been an innovative, forwardthinking university. In fact, Durham was one of the first universities to admit women on an equal footing to men in 1890. When your son or daughter chooses to study at Durham University not only will they have access to a world leading education, but we also offer supportive college communities which provide a home away from home. Research-led education is at the heart of what we do. This means that our academic staff are more than just lecturers teaching from a book; the research they do shapes international and national agendas and directly informs our teaching.
Durham is a truly international university with global impact. Many students from the United States and Canada choose to study here, along with students from more than 150 other countries. The Durham difference • Ranked top 5 in the UK (The Times and The Sunday Times University Guide 2018 and The Guardian 2018) • A World Top 100 University (QS World Rankings 2018) • Ranked in the top 40 globally for employer reputation (QS World Rankings 2018) • In the top 3 safest universities in England and Wales (Complete University Guide) • Ranked 2nd in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) leagues for 5 consecutive years.
University College, Durham City
Durham Business School
North American Parents Guide
A bright future EMPLOYABILITY
Durham graduates are held in high regard worldwide. In fact, Durham is one of the most targeted universities in the UK by leading recruiters and was ranked top 40 globally for Employer Reputation (QS World Rankings 2018).
“I found out immediately that a Durham degree was very sought after on the international stage. Every week there were major multinational companies on campus for recruitment engagements.
UK degrees are more subject specific than in the US, which gives students more of a chance to gain expertise in their chosen field. Durham University also provides students with opportunities to build skills in areas like problem-solving, leadership, debate, and communication to make them stand out from the crowd in the employment market. Our Careers and Enterprise Centre helps equip graduates with the skills that they need to succeed. Services available include; expert advice on job applications, specialist careers advisers, work experience, internships, placements, enterprise workshops, networking events and skills support. www.durham.ac.uk/careers Durham graduates returning to the US and Canada are successful in finding good jobs. Here are some examples of where recent Durham graduates are working in North America:
“Upon completion of my studies at Durham University Business School I was able to land a job immediately with a Fortune 100 company and one of the world’s largest food companies at General Mills.” Derek Michalski, United States, MA Marketing
PARENTS VIEWPOINT “Having travelled through Durham before my daughter was born, I was taken by Durham’s history and the beauty of this World Heritage Site. Being a top-tier educational institution in this fantastic (and fantasy) location, it is the perfect choice for my daughter. And it is one of the safest places to study in the UK. “The small seminars, and the even more intimate tutorials, provide a manner of instruction not available in the USA. The caliber of the students and the level of instruction are amazing.
• Journalist, Bloomberg News
“The care and attention and support given to the students belies the University’s size. In the USA we might find this level of attention only in the smallest of the liberal arts colleges, but Durham University accomplishes this by its collegiate system. This is the best of both worlds, combining the intimacy of the individual colleges with the expansive academic and social opportunities of the whole university.”
• Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Research Center
William and Deborah Herst, parents of recent graduate from USA
• Chemist, Intertek • Accountant, Ernst & Young
• Investment Banking Analyst, Merrill Lynch • Consultant, Kronos • Recruitment Consultant, Swift Worldwide Resources • Field Manager, Clean Water Action
North American Parents Guide
US vs UK COMPLETION RATES
THE UCAS APPLICATION SYSTEM
At Durham University, when we say a Bachelor degree takes three years, we mean that your son or daughter will finish their degree within this time, unless they undertake a placement year or study abroad.
New undergraduate students apply to Durham University through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), which is the UK’s version of the Common App. The UCAS website contains helpful information for students (and parents) including a database of UK universities and their courses: www.ucas.com
Durham’s completion rate is 96% within three years (or four with a placement), which means there are significant time and financial savings to be made. We put this down to the focussed nature of UK Bachelor degree programmes and the high level of support offered to our students through the departments, colleges and central services here at Durham University.
UCAS charges one fee to submit an application to a maximum of five UK universities (£24) and provides extensive guidance about how to apply: www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/apply-and-track/filling-your-ucasundergraduate-application
Because students studying a Bachelor degree in England select their major at the beginning of their studies, the degree course is focussed right from the very start. This is true even for students who are interested in multiple subjects because they can pursue Joint and Combined Honours degrees, giving them expertise in many interdisciplinary areas. There are, however, fewer opportunities to switch majors and change focus once a student has started their degree.
Key dates March - September (the summer between students’ Junior and Senior years)
Research and make choices about universities and courses. Make the most of the summer vacation to visit universities and colleges. Applications can be sent to UCAS from September.
UCAS applications open.
Deadline for receipt at UCAS (by 6:00pm UK time) of applications for Oxford and Cambridge, or medicine, dentistry or veterinary science/medicine in any university.
Deadline for receipt at UCAS (by 6:00pm UK time) for applications which will receive ‘equal consideration’. International students may apply at any time between 1st September and 30th June (with some exceptions e.g. medicine). At Durham we encourage students to apply before the 15th January deadline.
If you have applied before 15th January you would ordinarily hear the outcome of your application by this date.
If you applied before the 15th January this should be the latest date by which you should hear the outcome of your application.
UCAS closes to all applications. Any applications made after this date go into UCAS Clearing, where students with no offers can apply to any universities that have any course places left.
The deadline by which students must meet any and all conditions of their offer (although most students are able to do this much earlier depending on when they receive their Grade 12 results).
Your student’s college guidance counselor should be able to provide advice about applying through UCAS. However, there is also a lot of helpful information about how to complete and submit the UCAS form on the UCAS website: www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/gettingstarted/international-and-eu-students/tips-international-applications Please also feel free to contact our office at international.office@ durham.ac.uk should you need any help submitting your application. UCAS applications are rolling applications that open in the September of the student’s Senior year, and run through to 30th June. Typically it takes Durham 6-8 weeks to process an application after we receive it via UCAS. However, in some cases where we need more information it can take a little bit longer.
To put this into perspective, the College Board published a paper on ‘Four Year Graduation Rates for Four Year Colleges’. Top Ivy League institutions were seeing completion rates in four years that were significantly lower than their English counterparts were producing in three. For example, Yale University (90%), Harvard College (88%), Princeton (89%), Dartmouth College (87%), Duke (88%), Notre Dame (90%).
Opposite is a timeline indicating the key dates in the UCAS application cycle. However, you should check the UCAS website for any amendments to the key dates in the year your son or daughter is applying. COMMON APPLICATION Students can also apply to Durham through Common App if they are classified an international student. EU and UK applicants should apply through UCAS. It is recommended that if a student is applying to more than one UK university they should use UCAS as it is a flat fee and only one application for multiple choices. Applications received through Common App are considered equally to those received through UCAS. We encourage Common App applicants to also apply by 15th January. UCAS VS APPLYING TO A US COLLEGE
Because of the nature of the English educational system, where students only get the results of the equivalent to their Grade 12 exams in August, the UCAS process runs a little later than applying to a US college. We don’t do Early Decision like most US colleges, but due to the rolling application process managed by UCAS, most students do hear the outcome of their application within a timely manner, and often by January if they apply before Christmas.
North American Parents Guide
Accommodation and Facilities
Teaching of classes takes place in Michaelmas and Epiphany terms, the first two terms of the academic year. No teaching takes place in Easter term; this term is used solely for examinations. Students will typically be examined at the end of each academic year of their undergraduate degree, but only exams taken in their final two years of study will ordinarily count towards their final degree grade.
LIVING ON CAMPUS
Durham is a collegiate university made up of a number of college communities, 15 undergraduate colleges in total. All university accommodation is based in our colleges and most first year students live in college.
Durham offers guidance, information, and student support including disability support, counselling and faith provision. Each college also offers a range of services for their students so that students have a solid support network at every turn. www.durham.ac.uk/experience/support
Durham University operates a modular system. This means that the academic topics that make up the programme are divided into classes called ‘modules’. Each degree programme has a set number of core modules that students are required to take, but in most programmes students also have the opportunity to choose some optional modules. The fact that all modules are based on the same 20-credit ‘weighting’ makes it easier to ‘fit together’ a selection of compulsory and optional modules. Each module may be 20, 40 or 60 credits (or any other multiple of 20). Each module is set at a particular level depending on how demanding it is. In general most students will take Level 1 modules during the first year of study, Level 2 modules during the second year, etc. Each 20 credit module typically equates to 200 hours of study time (including lectures, classes and private study). UK GRADING SCHEME VS NORTH AMERICAN GRADING SCHEME English universities marking can seem much stricter than their North American counterparts. We always warn our North American students not to panic when they receive the scores back from their first essay having achieved a 65%: this is actually a very strong score in the UK.
Colleges are much more than just somewhere to sleep; being part of a college means that students get all of the benefits of a large, international university whilst living in a smaller and friendly scholarly community. They offer a high level of personal support, as well as excellent facilities often including a library, café, gym, chapel, and common rooms.
Palace Green Library
Term dates 2019 – 20 Induction Week
30 Sept – 06 Oct
07 Oct – 13 Dec
14 Dec – 12 Jan
13 Jan – 20 Mar
21 Mar – 26 Apr
27 Apr – 26 June
27 June – 27 Sept
WORK EXPERIENCE Durham University has an excellent Careers and Enterprise Centre which advertises internship opportunities for students wishing to gain work experience during their studies. These internships vary in length between short, summer placements to yearlong opportunities that can be built into the student’s degree programme.
1st class honours, 70% = 3.8-4.0 GPA summa cum laude 2:1 upper second class honours 60-69% = 3.3-3.7 GPA magna cum laude 2:2 lower second class honours 50-59% = 2.8-3.2 GPA cum laude 3rd class 45-49% = 2.3-2.7 GPA
STUDENT EMPLOYMENT If students want to work part-time during their studies, there are many opportunities on campus which are advertised year round. At the time of going to print most Tier 4 Student Visas allow students to work up to 20 hours a week:
When a first year student is allocated to a particular college, that is also confirmation that they will have a room in that college for their first year (apart from in exceptional circumstances). The majority of the rooms in colleges are single rooms which include a bed, desk and wardrobe. Depending on the college, students may have their own bathroom, or access to a shared bathroom. Some colleges have shared rooms, but students are notified in advance if allocated to a shared room. In most cases the college fee covers the room and catering for the academic year (except in colleges offering self-catered accommodation).
FACILITIES We pride ourselves on our outstanding facilities - from our collections and archives which attract scholars from all over the world, to cutting-edge IT support - you will find plenty of facilities to support your academic studies. We have a continuous programme of improvements and annually invest millions of pounds to make sure that our students have access to high-quality lecture theatres, seminar rooms and subject specific facilities such as science laboratories and dedicated libraries. The Palatine Centre houses all student services including a careers facility, counselling and disability services, immigration and financial support, and a catering facility.
Our colleges are located throughout Durham City which means students can easily access any department from their university accommodation. Durham is compact enough to walk around, though some choose to cycle as well. Durham University will try to honour college preferences but we cannot guarantee that all applicants will be allocated to their first choice college. We try to minimise this number but for most colleges there will be a number of applicants reallocated due to their preference college being over-subscribed for their subject. For students that choose to spend some time living outside college, which many students choose to do in their second year at Durham, there is a large selection of student housing on offer: www.durham.ac.uk/experience/colleges/accommodation SAFETY Named in the top three safest universities in England and Wales by The Complete University Guide, Durham University has one of the lowest number of incidences of student-relevant crime within three miles of its campuses. The University also offers services like a Night Bus to provide students with safe transportation to their accommodation in the evening during term-time. College of St Hild and St Bede
North American Parents Guide
Fees and Finance
All Durham University students have the opportunity to study abroad as part of their student experience. *FEES 2019/20 Tuition fees: Undergraduate fees for international students are currently expected to range from between £19,250 and £24,300. Full-Time Taught Masters fees for international students are expected to range from £17,350 to £28,000. This may be subject to change as the final programmes are confirmed. Please check our course database (www.durham.ac.uk/courses) for details of fees.
Students studying abroad can spend part of their degree programme at an institution in a different country. Opportunities include spending a year studying or working at one of our 100+ European partner institutions through the Erasmus+ scheme. Palace Green, Durham City
• University of Western Australia (UWA), Perth, Australia
*College fees (accommodation) £5,062 - £10,901
• University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
*depending on catering, single/shared room/flat, and en-suite/shared bathroom
• University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
*fees are correct at the time of printing
• Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
International undergraduate students entering in the 2019/20 and subsequent academic years will pay the same tuition fee for the duration of their course with no annual increases. For more details on tuition fees and funding opportunities:
• University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada • McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada • Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile
• Peking University (PKU), China
We are able to accept FAFSA loans (although not FAFSA grants) which can be applied directly to tuition and accommodation fees. Our dedicated finance officer can work with North American students who want to take out loans: www.durham.ac.uk/foreign.loans
• Waseda University, Shinjuku, Japan
Durham University currently has:
• University of Otago, New Zealand
• More than 200 clubs and societies offering everything from archery to world cinema
• National University of Singapore, Singapore • Boston College, USA Study abroad
Durham University is not just a great place to study, it is a great place to be a student. While we expect academic excellence, we recognise that academic success is only half of the story.
• University of Tokyo, Japan
• University of Hong Kong (HKU), Hong Kong
Durham offers a small number of scholarships each year, but as they are limited we encourage students to also research outside funding sources.
A UNIQUE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
At Durham University there is so much to learn outside the classroom. Important life skills such as teamwork and leadership can be developed through extracurricular activities - and of course they can be lots of fun.
• Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
There are three fee payment deadlines each year with the first payment due in December. It is not necessary to pay before arrival. Payments can be made via direct debit (the preferred method), cheque, or credit card: www.durham.ac.uk/treasurer/students/payingyourinvoice
We also run student exchange schemes outside of the EU. Some of our non-Erasmus partner universities are:
• Students raising money for over 120 charities in the UK and abroad • More than 600 students volunteering in the local community through our Student Community Action initiative • Award-winning student media • Music societies, groups and events for every taste, from orchestra, bands and chamber choirs, to gospel and opera
The Bailey, Durham City
• Durham University Student Theatre - offering the chance to be involved in a range of theatrical productions from behind the scenes to star of the show
If you are using loans for part or all of the fees, then the Student Funding Office will work with you to arrange payment: www.durham.ac.uk/foreign.loans
TEAM DURHAM SENDING MONEY OVERSEAS The best way to send money overseas may depend on your bank, but typically wiring money or sending a bank transfer to a UK bank account is the quickest way. Your student will have assistance in setting up a bank account once they arrive - and it is best to wait until they arrive to do this - and their UK bank will be able to provide instructions for a bank transfer. Alternatively, students can take cash out at an ATM with a US bank card but they will usually have to pay a withdrawal fee and there are limits on how much money can be taken out at one time.
The Exchange and Study Abroad team arrange a Study Abroad Fair in the Michaelmas term each year with information about opportunities available. Exchange and Study Abroad:
Sport is an important part of many Durham University students’ lives with more than 90% taking part on a regular basis. Our colleges have more than 500 teams across 18 different sports for recreational competition, and there are opportunities to compete at a higher level in one of our 52 university sports clubs. Our aim is for any student, from an enthusiastic amateur to a future Olympian, to be able to enjoy participating and competing in sport.
STUDY ABROAD FAIR
Bill Bryson Library
Changing degree programme It is sometimes possible for a student to change degrees after arriving at Durham University, but there are some restrictions to be aware of: VISAS Firstly, the student visa is linked to a specific degree at a specific university, so if a student decides that they would like to change their degree they will need to apply for a new Tier 4 Student Visa. Durham University has a trained visa and immigration team that can assist students doing this, so they shouldnâ€™t need to return home to undertake this process, but they should be aware of this and the associated costs. SPACE Secondly, changing degrees at Durham University depends on whether there is space in the classroom/laboratory for the student to switch to their preferred course. Durham is a selecting university and our degree courses are usually full, which can mean that we are not able to accommodate a change of degree. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS Thirdly, it depends on whether the student is qualified for the degree onto which they want to switch. Because a UK degree is subject specific and very focussed from the beginning of the programme, it is often important for students to have taken specific subjects in high school in order to have the appropriate background knowledge for the degree course. If a student has not studied the pre-requisite courses for the degree they want to switch to, or have not achieved appropriate grades in these courses, it might not be possible for them to transfer to the new degree programme. However, we want our students to be happy in their studies so if a student does decide they would like to change their degree focus after arriving at Durham University, they should talk to their College Tutor and Course Tutor in the first instance. If you think that your son or daughter is likely to want to change degrees we would encourage them to explore our Joint and Combined Honours programmes. These degrees provide the opportunity to study multiple subjects, so if your student is interested in a few subject areas or if they donâ€™t want to tie themselves down to just one subject, then they can pursue a more interdisciplinary degree structure.
North American Parents Guide
Need to know
Arrival and orientation
WEATHER AND PACKING
The National Health Service (NHS) is a public-funded system which provides health care for residents of the United Kingdom. All non-EU nationals coming to live in the UK for longer than six months pay a ‘healthcare surcharge’ to use the NHS.
Unless students have an UK or EU passport, they will require a student visa to study in the UK. Students are responsible for obtaining their own visa, but the University offers information and guidance. Because immigration regulations change regularly, we recommend students refer to guidance online:
If you want to visit Durham pre-application or pre-arrival we would be happy to arrange a campus tour and meeting with the international office: www.durham.ac.uk/international/apply/visit
The surcharge is £150 per visa year for students and is charged for the maximum leave the student can remain on their visa. This means that a student who applies to study a 12 month course will be charged £225 (as leave can be granted for a maximum period of 17 months). The charge is calculated as £150 (for one year) plus £75 (for any additional period of six months or less). Applicants MUST make sure they have completed their immigration application and paid the surcharge for the duration of their visa.
The weather in the North East of England is temperate but changeable, so it’s advisable to wear layers and pack a waterproof jacket. The average winter temperature is 35F and the summer is 70F (with many days that are warmer or colder than the average). The North East of England is much drier than other parts of the UK, but we often experience a cold north-easterly wind, so a good wind-stopper jacket is recommended. It is rare for us to experience significant snow.
More information about the NHS Health surcharge can be found here: www.durham.ac.uk/immigration/entryclearance/ healthcaresurcharge MEDICAL INSURANCE You could consider taking out insurance to cover other medical-related costs. Basic care through the NHS does not require additional insurance, but if your student has needs that may require specialist treatment you could consider an insurance policy which would give them access to private medical care and potentially quicker access to treatment. Other insurance policies you could consider may cover; lost fees if the student is unable to complete the course, costs of returning home if a relative is ill, costs of a relative visiting the UK if the student falls ill, and costs of returning home for treatment.
www.gov.uk/visas-immigration Students can only apply for their visa from the summer before arrival but as the teaching term starts in October this is ample time. To help make the process as smooth as possible, students should send their final results along with a copy of their valid passport to: email@example.com. We can then begin the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies process which is needed for the visa application.
IMPORTANT CONTACTS International Office T: +44 (0)191 334 6328 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Durham University Switchboard T: +44 (0)191 334 2000
Durham University Out of Hours Security T: +44 (0)191 334 2222 Durham City Police T: +44 (0)345 606 0365 University Hospital of North Durham T: +44 (0)191 333 2333
VACCINATIONS Students should register with an NHS doctor when they arrive. They will receive a quick health check as part of this registration process, and they should bring vaccination records and details of current medication. Students are strongly recommended to have the following vaccinations before coming to the UK: • Meningococcal Meningitis C Conjugate (if this is unavailable Meningitis A and C or ACWY may be given instead) • MMR (Mumps, Measles and Rubella).
Large bulky items like rain boots, winter jackets, etc. can be bought within the UK. Good, comfortable shoes are recommended for Durham’s cobblestone streets. A nice outfit (dinner jacket or cocktail dress) for college formal events is useful (although these can be bought or rented in Durham). Students can purchase gowns for ‘gowned’ colleges from their JCR (Junior Common Room). Some colleges provide bedding and towel sets, this will be noted in the arrival pack, and there are a number of places to buy items for bedrooms in Durham and Stockton. The main grocery/home living stores near both campuses, similar to Target or Walmart, are Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer. Each store has a super centre just outside of Durham City and accessible by public transport. There are other home stores in Durham’s city centre, and a range of stores in Stockton as well. For more information see: www.durham.ac.uk/international/newstudents/whattobring GETTING TO DURHAM Flying into Newcastle Airport is the most convenient way to reach Durham and is approximately 30 minutes away by car. Once in the UK, it’s best to use public transport. Trains and buses are safe, cheap and frequent. It’s cheaper to book train tickets in advance and you can do this up to 12 weeks ahead.
If you are considering renting a car bear in mind that most cars are manual transmission, in the UK we drive on the left, roads can be quite narrow and fast, and parking in cities can be difficult to find and relatively expensive. For more information on how to arrive see: www.durham.ac.uk/about/location
There are some nice accommodation options in the city: • Durham City has a few hotel chains including Radisson Blu, Marriott, Hotel Indigo and Premier Inn. • There are a number of good B&B and Inn options as well, which you can explore on Durham’s tourism site: www.thisisdurham.com/accommodation • Durham University’s colleges also sometimes have guest rooms available which can be reserved through the University’s Event Durham team: www.durham.ac.uk/event.durham/tourism Please note that Durham City is located within Durham County, so when searching for accommodation check the distance to the city centre or search for Durham City. ARRIVAL AND ORIENTATION The Colleges Office runs a Meet & Greet service before Induction Week where they meet students at Newcastle International Airport and provide transportation to college accommodation for a small fee. Students can sign up for this service at: www.durham.ac.uk/international/newstudents CELL PHONES It’s cheaper to buy a phone plan in the UK than continue to use a US phone. There are no-commitment options, where students can pay as they go, or they can sign a contracted plan similar to North American plans. Students should check signal strength in their accommodation area before buying. Apps like Skype and WhatsApp are a free option for staying in touch with friends and family back home. ALUMNI CONTACTS The North American Foundation for Durham University (NAFUD), or DunelmUSA/DunelmCanada are our alumni group in the US and Canada. They are run by a dedicated group of alumni across North America who are happy for parents and students to contact them with questions about living and learning at Durham: www.dunelmusa.org
If your student does not have these vaccinations, they will be offered them as part of registration with a doctor: www.durham.ac.uk/international/life/healthcare www.durham.ac.uk
OUR USA REPRESENTATIVES
International Office, Durham University
The Palatine Centre Stockton Road Durham DH1 3LE UK T +44 (0)191 334 6328 F +44 (0)191 334 6326 E email@example.com
Beth Pearson, Regional Manager, East Coast USA & Canada (UK Based)
T: +44 (0)191 334 6323 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristi McFarland, International Officer, West Coast USA & Mexico (USA Based) T: 720-376-0480 E: Kristi.email@example.com
This University publication is intended as a general guide to the University of Durham’s courses and facilities and forms no part of any contract between you and the University except as provided below. The publication is prepared in advance of the academic year to which they relate. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained here is accurate. Although reasonable steps are taken by the University to provide the courses and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility. Any course may be altered or withdrawn owing to circumstances beyond the University of Durham’s reasonable control. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in Government policy, withdrawal or reduction of funding, change of Law. The University will take such steps as are available to it to minimise the effect of any alteration or withdrawal of a course. Such steps may include the offer of a place on an alternative course. Please note that the University’s website is the most up to date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments. Durham University and Durham University logo are registered Trade Marks of the University of Durham. Unless otherwise stated, all material in this publication is copyright of the University of Durham. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the permission of the University. WARM/XX/XX/XXX