Church colleges baiting a `sectarian ideology' trap

October 27, 1994

Gordon McGregor's article on church colleges' bid to become universities (THES, October 14) is, one hopes, the nadir of recent "developments" in higher education.

His answer to the question of what is now to distinguish the curricula of these newly "diverse" colleges from the ostensibly identical ones in universities is that such curricula are to be presented "in contexts in which the study and practice of the Christian faith is taken seriously".

But this cannot just mean that they will include courses in theology, since proper universities already do that; it means that they will "help our staff to offer students Christian insights and experience in our main disciplines -- beginning with science and sociology".

In other words, these institutions will be distinguished by the fact that, while professing "openness" and "honesty", their university-style secular curricula will be used for implicit religious proselytisation.

The expression "church university" is an oxymoron, and it would be wrong in principle for scarce public money to be diverted to support institutions that use prestigious-sounding education as a bait for the dissemination of sectarian ideology.

Charles Clark Faculty of education Goldsmiths College, London

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