Vote: Should university students have to sign a code of conduct for their behaviour?

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Durham University students could be made to sign an American-style ‘honour code’.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, the university’s vice chancellor, raised the prospect of introducing the measure to combat behaviour which has left some in the city at loggerheads with the historic institution.

The suggested code of conduct could also be introduced with a revamped freshers’ week, which would place a greater focus on County Durham’s heritage.

Prof Corbridge said: “I think it’s common in US universities for students to sign an honour code.

“We’re looking at a code of conduct for our students and we’re looking at a change to the way we do induction.

“That has a different tone to freshers’ week and it would look at the history of the region.

“[The introduction of a] community liaison officer is another change we’ve introduced, but I would come back to my major point, which is that the vast majority of our students do behave and contribute hundreds of hours of volunteering each year.”

Many universities in the USA use honours codes to promote academic values, but in some instances they also cover expected social standards.

Prof Corbridge, who moved to Durham in 2015 from the London School of Economics, was speaking as part of the university’s latest round of community engagement for its strategy up to 2027.

This is expected to see expansion which would bring an extra 5,800 students to the city over the next decade, about 1,800 of which will be from its campuses in Stockton.

Accomodation for the increased numbers has been an issue for some time, but the vice chancellor hopes to be able to house half of the student population in colleges or college-owned properties within 10 years.

One of the university’s critics on Durham County Council has been Coun Jan Blakey, who used a planning committee meeting on proposed student flats this week to criticise students for not contributing to or interacting with the communities in which they live.

She said: “Stuart usually comes up with some pretty brilliant ideas and he does his best to implement them, but it’s still down to the students and the landlords.

“Is he going to get them [landlords] to sign up to it too?

“I think he is on the right track, by getting these people coming up here to understand the community they’re moving into.

“Maybe that’s the first step in the right direction.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service