Spurgeon's appeal after regulator decision
Spurgeon’s College has appealed for the support of the Christian community after the Office for Students (OfS) turned down its registration application
The OfS, the higher education regulator in England, determined that the College passed 4 of its 5 tests for registration, but did not meet its financial sustainability test. The College fundamentally disagrees with this financial assessment and believes it has been made on seriously flawed assumptions.
The College's statement added that it is important to note that ‘no question has been raised regarding the high quality of the College’s educational offer’.
The College will remain open and it will continue with its core mission to train men and women for Christian ministry. The decision by the OfS, however, does mean that some of its students will no longer be able to access any kind of student loan or financial help from the Student Loans Company.
Those students still eligible for loans will not be able to access the full amount.
Speaking on Premier Radio this week, Principal the Revd Professor Philip McCormack said the College, which has been training Baptist ministers for 163 years, had gone public in an attempt to mitigate the damage for its students affected by the decision.
He explained that a number of students are planning to come to college this year, having stepped out in faith and given up jobs, face much uncertainty as they are no longer able to access student loans. There are concerns for their welfare and wellbeing with the academic year beginning in a matter of weeks.
‘This is the primary reason why we are seeking to raise this in the consciousness of the Christian community,’ Philip said.
‘Students and student numbers are not a theoretical thing for us. We don’t deal with numbers, we deal with people. We meet with them, we build a relationship with them, we know their family details. This affects real people and real families in the real world. It is extremely upsetting when we take phone calls from students who desperately want to follow God’s call on their lives, but now find themselves in a situation where they cannot access student finance.’
He encouraged the Christian community to respond in a variety of ways.
‘We would love for the Christian community to pray for this situation, pray for our students, perhaps if they feel exercised by the Holy Spirit, to support our special appeal to help students directly affected.
‘Every Christian listening to this can make a difference in the lives of real people affected by what we believe is a poor decision.
‘We also encourage Christians, if they are able to do so, to write to the Minister of Universities (Jo Johnson MP) to ask him to review the decision.
‘We believe if it was reviewed, we think it could be reversed, and the OfS could register us.’
Earlier in the interview, Philip explained in more detail why the College believes the decision to be flawed.
‘The OfS requires an institution to have the financial viability to operate for three years,’ he said.
‘The reason why we are so amazed by this is that we have a robust balance sheet. We have the liquidity to offer it comfortably and deliver our primary ministry, which is training men and women for Christian ministry in the contemporary world.
‘Bizarrely the OfS does not believe the money we have in our account we can use in order to deliver our ministry.
‘We don’t understand why they have come to that conclusion.’
Baptists Together has moved quickly to support students planning to train for Baptist ministry at Spurgeon’s College in light of the Office for Students (OfS) declining the College’s application for registration. Click here for details.