New programme for North East students studying STEM subjects

Their academics are supporting North East students with studying STEM subjects and applying to university, under a new scheme.

Through ‘Levelling Up: Aspire Higher’, our experts will tutor and mentor students that are traditionally underrepresented in higher education STEM subjects, particularly Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics, as they study towards A-levels in these subjects and apply to university.

The new programme is a collaboration between Durham, the London Mathematical Society, and the Institute of Physics and has been launched with the support of a generous gift from philanthropist Dr Tony Hill.

Professor Jacqui Ramagge, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Science at Durham University, said: “We are proud to be taking the lead in a programme which will impact the lives of many young people in the North East and more broadly across the UK.

“Here at Durham University we are passionate about helping students succeed, regardless of their background or circumstances. We are delighted that Dr Tony Hill’s gift will support us to do just that.”

Dr Tony Hill was formerly a teacher in the North East before, in the 1970s, pursuing a career in the software industry. He went on to become Chief Executive Officer of Micro Focus, leading the company to a successful float on the London Stock Exchange in 2005.

Since retiring, he has devoted much of his time to philanthropic projects, focusing on science outreach and widening participation in higher education.

He said: “I am delighted to be working with Durham University’s Faculty of Science. They share my ambition to give all young people, regardless of their background, the opportunity to realise their potential.”

From Durham, the project is being led by Dr Jacquie Robson, Associate Professor (Teaching) in the Chemistry Department, working with colleagues in the Mathematical Sciences and Physics departments plus Dr Helen Cramman, Assistant Professor (Research) from the School of Education, an expert in evaluating the impact of different educational interventions.

Applications for the programme will open in spring 2021. For further information, please contact Dr Jacquie Robson at

The Levelling Up: Aspire Higher programme will complement existing programmes that the University runs for North East students including Supported Progression, a programme aimed at Year 12 students from the region with the potential to study at Durham who would benefit from extra help and support.

Earlier this year the University announced the ‘Durham Inspired – North East Scholarships’, a programme backed by a £2m endowment, to enable students from low-income backgrounds in the North East to study at Durham.