You’ve got to have faith – in the value of universities

Core principles underpin both the church and higher education, and we mustn’t be afraid to shout about them, writes Joy Carter

June 26, 2013

It’s often said that higher education fails to connect with much of the public, and that universities are not as articulate as they should be in highlighting their value to society.

One way to address this could be to make more of the ethics, values and even (where appropriate) the religious grounding of many of our higher education institutions.

With newspaper headlines focusing remorselessly on value for money and the so-called graduate premium, students are being encouraged to base their decisions on earning prospects, or dubious data on the jobs that graduates hold six months after completing.

There is nothing wrong with taking note what one might earn, of course; in fact it’s entirely rational. But it should only be part of the picture.

All the evidence shows that getting more people into higher education isn’t just good for the economy, it also leads to a happier, healthier society (which in turn saves money).

But somehow this message has failed to get through, so universities risk seeming to be a drain on public resources rather than a powerful engine for social and economic good.

The reforms of recent years have caused unprecedented turbulence for universities and students, particularly the shift of funding from the state to the individual through student loans.

But as chair of the Cathedrals Group of universities, I’ve also been acutely aware of another sphere of public life going through a period of upheaval: the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Methodist churches, which provide the origins to our 15 member institutions.

Despite this, the ethics, morals and values which underpin these churches remain solid.

Higher education too has core principles which are unshakeable, despite the turmoil that may be going on in terms of funding arrangements or government policy.

Fairness, equality and opportunity underpin both religion and higher education.

And there are countless examples of religious institutions, students and universities working together to improve lives and contribute to society.

Capitalising on this, and these shared values, will do far more for universities than simply churning out press releases: we need to throw open our doors and invite the public in.

It is only through a direct conversation that we will make the case for expansion and investment, using real examples that mean something to the individuals who live and work beside us day in day out.

In his inaugural lecture for the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion, delivered last year, Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, described higher education as “the equipment of a healthy, self-critical society”.

The Cathedrals Group will continue to make this case by putting ethics, morals and the values of our faith at the heart of what we do.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Humboldt University, Berlin

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study