Durham University have received a record donation from alumni and are using the money to launch the Durham Inspired – North East Scholarships programme. It will support students coming from low-income backgrounds from the North East.

An endowment of £2 million, including matching donations to the programme, will be used to inspire and support exceptional young minds from across the region to reach their full potential, regardless of financial means.

The Scholarships programme will support 20 students each year from low-income backgrounds, empowering and enabling local students to study for foundation, undergraduate, and/or masters level qualifications, whilst also pursuing vital leadership and development experiences offered at Durham.

The Scholarships are part of a record £7.5 million donation from Charles Wilson and partner Dr Rowena Olegario. It is the largest single donation in the University’s history.

Rowena and I are delighted to be supporting Durham University and the Durham Inspired campaign. Durham is making an incredible difference to the North East, the UK, and within the wider world; we are pleased that our support will assist the University's objectives in each of these areas.” >

Charles Wilson
Durham Credit: Durham University

The money will also be used to establish the new Wilson Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School and endowment for the University’s Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience (IHRR) – a research Institute co-founded by Wilson in 2004. It supports research and practice in areas related to global natural disasters.

The donation to launch the new Wilson Institute will provide entrepreneurs and leaders, especially in small and family businesses, with insightful and practical support to develop those businesses to full potential. The Institute will have a specific focus on servicing business leaders and business ideas in the local region at every stage of development: supporting ‘start-up, scale-up, and smart-up’ activities.

This is an extraordinary and hugely welcome demonstration of support for the University's mission from two very distinguished friends. Philanthropy is changing the game for students at Durham and this record donation will leave an indelible and enabling legacy for the benefit of generations to come." >

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University

Bethany Henderson, 3rd Year English Literature scholarship student at Durham University from County Durham said:

Bethany Henderson, 3rd Year English Literature scholarship student Credit: Durham University

These scholarships are such fantastic news for students who live in the North East and want to come to an amazing place like Durham but just don't know how they can make it all work financially. As well as the money side of things, it's such a confidence boost to know that our alumni have such a strong belief in our future."

Bethany Henderson, 3rd Year English Literature scholarship student
Durham University business centre. Credit: Durham University

The overall donation will have a transformative impact on the future of a vast number of low-income students who will now have additional financial support to attend the University, the research that the Institute for Hazard, Risk and Resilience is able to conduct and disseminate, and a huge impact on entrepreneurs and small businesses by launching the Wilson Institute.