Hundreds of would-be church ministers will have to study two-year foundation degrees instead of their traditional diplomas as a result of the Government's decision to cut funding for students pursuing qualifications at an equivalent or lower level than those they already hold.
Three quarters of the 1,500 students training to become Church of England ministers at any one time hold degrees, and the Church spends £16.5 million a year on training.
With £100 million less in Government funding for ELQ students, many universities have said they will charge higher fees to make up the shortfall, which could cost the Church - which currently pays full tuition fees for ordinands - an extra £1.5 million a year.
Now the Higher Education Funding Council for England has given the churches a one-year reprieve to allow time to develop new types of courses that will be exempt from the cuts.
At the moment, in the case of the Church of England, most trainee ministers study for a diploma in ministry or a diploma in theology for ministry. The Church plans to adapt these into foundation degrees, which are exempt from the ELQ policy.
The Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham James, said that while some traditional methods of delivery would need to be re-addressed to reflect "an increasingly practical emphasis" in ministerial training, the Church remained committed to offering academically stimulating courses.
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