ACADEMICS have spoken of their sadness after two students at the University of York died within two days of each other.

Inquests were opened today into the deaths of Saher Ahmad, 20, a third year archaeology undergraduate, and Alexander Hurry, 22, a first year sociology student - both of whom were members of Vanbrugh College.

Acting senior coroner Jonathan Leach said Ms Ahmad, 20, who had a history of depression and had been prescribed medication, was found dead at a property in Alcuin Avenue, Tang Hall, last Friday.

He said Mr Hurry, 22, of Fairfax House, Heslington Road, who had a history of alcohol abuse and had been upset and depressed, was found dead on Sunday. Both inquests were adjourned to later dates.

A university spokesman said staff were 'greatly saddened' by the students' deaths, and their thoughts were with their family and friends.

Head of Department in Archaeology, Dr John Schofield, said: “Saher was one of our best citizens, a lively and positive force at King’s Manor, Secretary of the Archaeology Society and a leading light in the organisation of some very successful parties, including the recent Christmas Party."

He said she was a "thoughtful and conscientious student, making perceptive and insightful contributions in seminars and always encouraging to others. We had hoped that she would move on to study for a Masters degree with us. She will be missed by all those who knew her.”

Her supervisor Dr Penny Spikins said she “brought energy and enthusiasm to her studies and was always a source of support to her friends."

Her dissertation supervisor, Dr Kate Giles said: “She was a bright star, enthusing all those around her with her love of learning; a creative and original thinker who will be much missed as a student and fellow researcher, by all of us."

Professor Ellen Annandale, head of sociology, said Alex came to York to study for his BA in sociology with social psychology last autumn last year and expressed enthusiasm for his chosen subject and the modules he was following.

“Regrettably Alex’s time with us has been cut short and we are deeply sorry that we shall not have the opportunity to work with him to help realise his academic potential," she said.

The Principal of Vanbrugh College, Dr Barry Thomas, added: “Alex’s friends and colleagues in Fairfax House were much saddened by his death. He was in his first year at university with much to offer the community and we very much regret that his potential was cut short in such a tragic way.”

• Anyone with concerns about depression can phone PAPYRUS’ HOPELineUK on 0800 0684141, or go to, or phone Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit