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A countryside college, which was for 200 years the Catholic seminary for the north of England, is to have a temporary twenty first century role as the temporary home of Durham Business School, in the north-east of England.

Ushaw College, a collection of imposing listed buildings set in beautiful grounds three miles outside Durham city, used to train priests for the northern province and the diocese of Shrewsbury. It closed last year as demand for its services had dwindled.

The Ushaw Trustees and Durham University have now agreed that Durham Business school will temporarily relocate to Ushaw in April so work can begin on the £16.6m rebuilding and extension of DBS’s current Mill Hill Lane home in Durham. This redevelopment includes construction of seminar rooms, offices and catering facilities as well as alterations to existing buildings. DBS is expected to be based at Ushaw for two years.

Ushaw’s roots date back to Douai College, which was founded in 1568 and educated Catholic laymen at a time when Catholics suffered persecution in England. The Ushaw site dates from 1808; its buildings were designed by notable Catholic architects including A.W. Pugin. For much of the nineteenth century, it was the premier Catholic college in England.

Under the new agreement, the university will invest significantly in Ushaw’s facilities and provide specialist resources to catalogue and archive its important library collections, helping to open them up for scholarly use and public benefit. Ushaw’s project group, set up to secure a viable future for the college, is chaired by the Right Rev. Bishop Mark Davies, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury and himself an alumnus of Durham University.

Rob Dixon, dean of DBS, said; “We are delighted that Durham Business School will soon be brought into association with the rich history of learning at Ushaw College. We will be investing significantly in the facilities that will leave a positive legacy at the college, thus making our own contribution to the promising future of the site.”

Durham is not the only business school to turn to the church in times of need. During the first few years of its life Insead was housed in a monastery in Fontainebleau, for example, and so unable to recruit women students. Meanwhile the McDonough school at Georgetown University in Washington has occupied a fire station and the business school at the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, took over the local prison.


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