Baptists Together support for Spurgeon's students
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
The College remains open, but the OfS decision means students beginning courses in September are unable to access any kind of student loan or financial help from the Student Loans Company. Some have given up jobs to follow God’s call on their lives.
In order to support those impacted by this difficult and exceptional situation, Trustees this week agreed to set aside £200k from Baptist Union reserves. These funds are available to replace Student Loans and Grants that would have been available to students.
Spurgeon’s College is now liaising with the affected students to help them access the funding they need.
Explaining the decision to support the College in this way, General Secretary Lynn Green said: ‘The work of our Baptist colleges in training men and women for Baptist ministry is essential to our Baptist family. One of our four key areas of work is investing in Godly Leadership, while one of our cultural values is that we aspire to feel like one team. Spurgeon’s is an excellent College whose alumni are working across the world to support their communities. It has bold and innovative plans as it seeks to train men and women for Christian ministry and mission in the contemporary world. Trustees were therefore united in their decision to support the College and its students in this way.
‘This is an exceptionally difficult situation for the College, and particularly for those students directly affected by what we believe to be a flawed decision. We believe this funding will be sufficient to ensure that all those training for Baptist ministry can continue their studies as planned.’
College Principal the Revd Professor Philip McCormack said, ‘This is an encouraging and uplifting response of the Baptist family to an unjust and urgent situation.
‘The College is now working on the implementation of this fantastic expression of love from our Baptist Union. We are meeting with each student to determine what they would have received from the Student Loan Company.’
The OfS, the higher education regulator in England, determined that the College passed 4 of its 5 tests for registration, but that it did not meet its financial sustainability test. The College fundamentally disagrees with this decision, and believes it has been made on seriously flawed assumptions.
Philip explained, ‘The OfS requires an institution to have the financial viability to operate for three years.
‘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.’
The College has encouraged the Christian community to pray about the situation, as well as to the Minister of Universities, to ask him to review the decision. A template letter is available here.
Baptists Together staff are continuing to liaise with Spurgeon’s to offer any assistance needed to deal with the immediate situation, and to progress the application for registration with the OfS.
The College has also created an emergency appeal to support students affected by the decision. The appeal will now be focussed on supporting students at the college who are not studying for Baptist ministry.
See the Spurgeon's College statement in response to the OfS decision.