Durham University (officially known as The University of Durham) is a collegiate research university in Durham, North East England. It was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837. It was one of the first universities to open in England for more than 600 years and has a claim towards being the third oldest university in England.
Durham University has a unique estate, which includes 63 listed buildings, ranging from the 11th-century Castle to a 1930s Art Deco Chapel. The university also owns and manages the World Heritage Site in partnership with Durham Cathedral. The university's ownership of the World Heritage Site includes Durham Castle (which is a residence for students who are members of University College), Palace Green, and the surrounding buildings including the historic Cosin's Library.
As a collegiate university, its main functions are divided between the academic departments of the university and 16 colleges. In general, the departments perform research and provide lectures to students, while the colleges are responsible for the domestic arrangements and welfare of undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and some university staff.
The university is currently ranked 5th or 6th by all the latest league tables of the British universities."Long established as the leading alternative to Oxford and Cambridge", the university attracts "a largely middle class student body" according to The Times's Good University Guide.Durham has the second highest proportion of privately educated students as well as the best quality of student life in the country according to the Lloyds Bank rankings. The university was named Sunday Times University of the Year in 2005, having previously been shortlisted for the award in 2004.
Current academics include 15 Fellows of the Royal Society, 18 Fellows of the British Academy, 16 Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences, 2 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and 2 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
The university is a member of the Russell Group of UK universities after previously being a member of the 1994 Group. Durham is also affiliated with several university groups including the N8 Research Partnership and the Matariki Network of Universities.
The chancellor of the university is Sir Thomas Allen, who succeeded Bill Bryson in January 2012. The post-nominal letters of graduates have Dunelm (the Latin abbreviation for Durham) attached to indicate the university.