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Free Churches express concerns for Universities and Students

15 July 2020

The Free Churches Group has written an open letter to Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, highlighting the challenges faced by the sector because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and urging her to put safeguard the wellbeing of students and the ongoing contribution of universities to society.

Rev’d Paul Rochester, the General Secretary of the Free Churches Group, points out the risk that groups of students and potential students who are already disadvantaged, might encounter further barriers if provision is not made to address the “digital divide” in society.

The use of graduate salaries as a measure of quality of education is criticised as it disadvantages universities and other providers which prepare students for careers in lower-paid but crucial roles in healthcare and other vocations that benefit society.

Universities, the letter says, should be key agents for social mobility, overcoming barriers to opportunity arising from social class, ethnicity, location or disability.

The churches have a role to play in supporting universities, their staff and students, from welcoming international students to providing spaces for study if social distancing means that university campuses have reduced capacity.

The letter ends with an invitation to the Minister to have further conversation about ways in which churches might play a significant role in the national recovery and other areas of education policy.

Read the letter in full here.

7 July, 2020
The Free Churches Group is an ecumenical body of 24 denominations and church groups that work together to promote faithful witness in the public square.