Death and the beautiful college

Death and the beautiful college

At a recent conference in London for European schools, there was general agreement, in research shown and in the room, that the present financial pressure will soon result in the death of a number of colleges. Why does this happen? What can we do?

Colleges often close because of factors external to themselves in society, but in a storm, some ships sink and others stay afloat, usually because of how they are steered.

Some colleges are at an advantage in any case. There are those that belong to a small denomination. In a large denomination with a number of its own colleges, there is always the danger of rationalisation of the provision and closure of colleges. In a small denomination with just one college, denominational pride will not allow the college to close whether it has students or is doing a good job or not. Also, the larger college is able to pay what is necessary for accreditation and immigration requirements for students – in time and money, and can offer a wide range of attractive courses. And then there is the well-endowed or well supported college, with backers who will see it through a crisis.

For those who do not have these artificial advantages, there are just three rules for survival;

  1. Do an excellent job with every student who comes through your doors – in academic, spiritual and ministerial formation, all in a loving and caring community. In these days of social inter-connectedness especially, very many students come to us by recommendation, and this is just.
  2. Become close to the key people. A college must be responsive to the needs of the churches, missions and students as to content, delivery and objectives. And they must know that we are talking with them and intend to meet their needs.
  3. Be true to your mission and vision. The lesson of history is that if this is lost the life of the college becomes precarious. We can be so concerned to do just what the other successful colleges are doing that we position the college right in the middle of a very crowded area of the market where we are not able to perform with excellence.

God calls a college as well as a person. We must remain faithful to our call while we try to be of most use. Do well the job God gave YOU to do. That is the best definition of success; and the result is very much up to him.

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One Comment on “Death and the beautiful college”

  1. Campbell Hamilton Says:

    Thank you Graham for another choice posting. It is so liberating for us to be able to prosper in the very place God has called us to be, and yet, as difficult as that has proven for some of us to locate, how much more difficult it can be for institutions. The challenge of survival, the ‘threat’ of insignificance, the spectre of ‘competitors’, who are actually more like colleagues in God’s economy, can so easily undermine our principles and seduce our ambition to be the best we can be, and before we know it our way can be lost as we sink into the hunger to be simply the best. Oh, that the call would arise from many more colleges, ringing out from lecturers and tutors, mentors and professors, bursting forth from students, inspiring the Church and terrifying the principalities and the powers, “Together for the Kingdom”! Let’s work with urgency while it is still day, not for our denominational or institutional advantage, not that our students may be better than others, not for our programmes and initiatives over against all others, but for the collegial quest for the beautiful preparation and empowering of the servants of God; for the determined and communal search for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, for the striving after mercy and not sacrifice, hesed does not sit well with market forces and the self-centred desire to corner the market.

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