Comments: Wycliffe Hall: Oxford report comments

What a turnaround! Once the Universities were bastions of Christianity, now they accept the ethos of a Christian education only grudgingly. As to the 'liberal ethos', that phrase is enough to give me cold chills. Meanwhile, Dr Ward's remarks show that the Anglican colleges, at least, exist for a different purpose than the conferring of a standard (or even standardised) Oxford qualification.

Posted by John Richardson at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 8:46am BST

Which lead to the founding of The Royal Society in London.

In 1660.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 9:47am BST

I think it's worth pointing out that the report critiques Wycliffe for not providing an adequate academic environment for undergraduates to engage with other undergraduates - the "Oxford Experience" of tutorials and the like. This is due to the fact that Wycliffe caters mainly for ordinands. As far as can see there is no overt criticism that Wycliffe does not teach academic theology properly and indeed, from my own experience of Wycliffe, the same syllabus of critical engagement with the text is taught as elsewhere in Oxford.

Posted by Peter O at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 10:02am BST

What goes around comes around.

40/50 years ago the Anglican theological colleges were not PPHs. Those coming to them with theology degrees from elsewhere tended to do a BLitt or DPhil if they had a good degree, or the Honour School of Theology if they hadn't, and were matriculated through St Catherine's or sometimes one of the other colleges. Those with a degree in another subject did the Theology school in six terms rather than seven, being exempt from the two terms of prelims. Others simply did GOE as it was then called. The policy of turning theological colleges into mini university colleges hasn't really worked well: it hastened the demise of the colleges like Lincoln and Chichester which were too far from universities for a worthwhile relationship and encouraged the development of individual courses elsewhere (let the reader understand), outwith the university milieu. The Ministry Board needs to listen to this report.

Posted by cryptogram at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 10:27am BST

It can't be right that higher academic standards should be expected of those prospective Christian leaders who by chance happen to train in the great university cities than of those who don't.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 12:36pm BST

Christopher: surely 'chance' is far from the leading reason why prospective Christian leaders choose an Oxford college over another route.

On another topic, can anyone enlighten me regarding the status of Ripon College Cuddesdon is it not a PPH?

Posted by Siggi Pålsson at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 1:19pm BST

Christopher,
I think the point is that it is not good for a theological school to simply push one particular brand of theology, and perhaps imply that any other way is wrong, maybe even evil. Surely an academic environment is about exposing people to all the various lines of academic inquiry in one's particular field. It is the province of fundamentalist "Bible colleges" to indoctrine people into one particular party line to the exclusion of all others. If that's what Wycliffe wants to be, then fine, but then they cease to be at least academic in that sense, and possibly even Anglican. What's more, it would mean that people get a better standard of theological education in places other than Wycliffe.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 1:22pm BST

What this shows is the increasing sectarianism of the Churches and that they have moved away from some of the fundamentals of academic life. This is the freedom to think and write, including out of the box, and that theology has to share this with other disciplines. Otherwise theology no longer has anything to do with the university.

I was listening to the BBC 4 programme yesterday (twice, actually) about scientific advances, and the place of individuals and the imagination, and them seeing into the wealth of maths, and the experiments that confirmed the maths so far, and also very recently the issues of the incompleteness of maths. As a complete non-specialist (or thicko) they have to employ some of the documentary techniques to tell an untellable speciality to do this (a book about which I picked up recently in a charity shop). For all my general knowledge in this, I just had to reflect just how lost now (as if in some sixteenth century backwater of people making truth claims that verge on the currently meaningless), is so much that passes for theology. Theology ought to be advancing too: picking up on the imaginative, the individual insight, the subjective and the significance of ideas such as the atom only becomes into an actual place existence when it is measured - in other words, the role of the observer in making a truth come to be (using the postmodern and subjective).

Perhaps these seminaries ought to become independent training factories for churning out in a marketing sense what priests and ministers are required to do. Better, however, a restatement of the connection of theological thinking with indeed liberal, thinking principles. How theology could fascinate and motivate if only it could relate to the means and methods of the imaginative scientist.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 1:38pm BST

This is inevitable if fringe fundamentalists are able to infiltrate theological education.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 2:46pm BST

Re: "Even an Oxford certificate in theology could be too demanding for some, he said…"

I remember a vocations day we did in this diocese years ago. As we examined the criteria, everyone nodded along with them - except for 'quality of mind'. The general feeling was that being nice but dim shouldn't disqualify one for ministry.

And I worry about this. Oh, I know I'm a dinosaur who believes in compulsory Coptic for NSM's, but my memory of the Oxford Cert is that it was pretty undemanding. I worry that, while every other discipline expects high standards, we're lowering them. And - to be honest - I worry that some will flaunt their 'Oxford' connections without the academic underpinning, and intimidate congregations. (NB - on the Barton notice board, the clergy are listed without academic qualifications.)

I recall Harriet Baber (on another list years ago) worrying that US clergy training was becoming juyst that -teaching dogs to jump through hoops. I wrote to say that such wasn't the case over here. But that was in the early days of the internet, ten years ago, and I was obviously complacent.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 6:29pm BST

I was a bit disturbed by one phrase in the report. The author wrote:
"Some young people come from Christian families who are looking for an Oxford education in a Christian context. ***But they are mixing mainly with older ordinands***"

This does seem to indicate a less than enthusiastic attitude towards mature students. Having gained two of my degrees at the ages of 44 amd 51, I'm a bit miffed by this. Is Oxford only for the traditional 18-year-old student?

Posted by Alan Harrison at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 7:24pm BST

Whereas I'm more than a bit disturbed, Alan, that in the context of the above story, "education in a Christian context" seems to be equated with the (capital 'E') "Evangelical tradition". As if!

Posted by JCF at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 8:28pm BST

John Richardson, I suspect the "liberal ethos" refers to the "classical liberalism ethos" and not the "post-modern thought police liberal ethos."

I know this article focused on Wycliffe, but was I the only one who got the impression a number of the private halls have issues?

Posted by Chris at Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 4:48am BST

Hi Ford

It is obviously the case that people should be taught to look at all the options and weigh them, without having their minds made up for them. But when I was living and being tutored at Wycliffe, I was committed to that approach much as I still am, and was *still* told that I dismissed liberal positions too glibly.

The approach we both advocate - why single out Wycliffe as opposed to St Stephen's or Cuddesdon or anyone else as falling short of it? The real enemy is 'ethos'. Where did 'ethos' come from, and what are its credentials? Whatever, it is preventing people in most institutions, whether sacred or secular, from being genuinely open-minded and examining the options dispasisonately and disinterestedly. Is it tribalism? Or a young person's lust to belong? Peer pressure? Or something like that?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 12:46pm BST

It can be tribalism and I have heard it in Anglican quarters over the years, but it may just be that Anglican styles are so wide now that to appreciate one is to come to reject another. I can enter many a range of churches across denominations, and there are some I cannot really, and the same has to be said for Anglican churches, even though they are all in one denomination. Of course what is happening now is a kind of shake out where, perhaps one day in the future, they may not all be in the same denomination.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 8:12pm BST

The report into Permanent Private Halls is in no way impartial and objective, but is the product of four very specific people with very specific partialities:
(1) Colin Lucas (chair): has spent his working life in Oxford's second most Marxist college. In fairness to him, the students are a lot more Marxist than a lot of the dons!
(2) Sue Gillingham:
(3) Judith Maltby writes for the Guardian, and has through that organ made her views on the 'persecution' of revisionist 'Christians' (re the homosexuality issue) well known. I am not stopping her doing so, but this is beginning to look like a not-very-balanced panel.
(4) Christopher Haigh is perhaps best-known for minimising the popularity of evangelical protestantism in the wake of the Reformation. (In this he may well be accurate: I wouldn't know.)

What, I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, will this particular panel think of Wycliffe?

The oddest thing is this: The report asks us to believe that purely academic training is obviously preferable to training which is both academic, pastoral, and practical.

It would actually make more sense to say that all Oxford students should satisfy the examiners in pastoral, practical and academic matters as the theological college students do. If that sound absurd (as it does), it is clearly, logically, less absurd than saying that those who are purely academic are clearly superior to those trained in all three.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 13 August 2007 at 12:46pm BST

The point being: could Stephen Bates make clear in his future writings that the report issued from 4 very specific individuals rather than being the voice of (as he grandly puts it!) 'Oxford'.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 13 August 2007 at 12:49pm BST

A case above of going for the person (people) and not for the ball? The issue, the ball, is the divergence between the expectations of university standards and the use of the University to provide some sort of training away from that ethos. If Wycliffe Hall wants to pursue a different ethos then perhaps it ought to do it from a different institutional arrangement.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 13 August 2007 at 2:35pm BST

Unfortunately for Mr Shell, the report is an official one, commissioned by the university and already accepted by its executive council (what used to be called hebdomadal council in my day as an undergraduate and then reporting on the university as a specialist correspondent - I think I probably know at least as much about Oxford University and its working as Mr Shell does).
It will, further, be published, as the university has made clear above, in the official Oxford University Gazette next month. So this is not some random gathering of malign individual academics who have got together to do down Wycliffe as he seeks to imply.
The report was commissioned a year ago, long before the problems at the hall became public knowledge but when there were already concerns in the university about the PPHs and Wycliffe in particular.

Posted by stephen bates at Monday, 13 August 2007 at 4:23pm BST

I think Mr Shell's personal attack on Dr Gillingham's private life with its implication that her motive was anti-evangelicalism is simplistic, inappropriate, and shamefully lacking in any kind of charity or politeness. I am surprised that the moderators allowed its posting.

Posted by cryptogram at Monday, 13 August 2007 at 5:15pm BST

Has Christopher Shell actually read the report then?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 13 August 2007 at 6:09pm BST

I am glad to see Dr Turnbull is still in charge at Wycliffe...I am sure he will meet the requirements of the University after his main priority of turning out well-trained and prepared vicars for the huge demand from CofE evo churches.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 10:30am BST

Hi Stephen B-
The logical error in your comment is that you imply that the report's official status somehow diminishes the fact that it emanates from very particular individuals. this is obviously false. It is both/and: It is both an official report and very different from what would be produced by a different set of individuals with different worldviews, backgrounds and understandings.

There is also a second error. I am not in the slightest implying that the 4 got together under their own initiative (how could *that* be the means of producing official reports?) - nor, of course, am I sure by what divination anyone would know better than myself what I am or am not implying.

Perhaps I was thinking that (given that another Guardian writer was involved) you may have long known some of the make-up of the committee, and that it was a factor, but did not mention this in the report. But in that I amy be totally wrong. You may have only recently become aware that JM was involved.

Hi Cryptogram-
That is why I took care to restrict myself to the witness of the relevant party and exclude my own irrelevant and less informed witness.

Hi Simon-
No - which is why I am relying on the accuracy of summaries, e.g. those in Guardian and CT. If summaries are inaccurate pls tell me; & I will read it when I see it.

Hi Pluralist-
I think you are denying that there can ever be both substantive and personal issues involved. This is also a tolerably clear error. Sometimes there are both. Sometimes there are neither. Sometimes there is only one or only the other. Sometimes, indeed, some of the substanticve issses involve the personnel.

The point is a simple one. In academic life, a paper which beings with laying biases and presupposuitions on the table is always preferable to one which does not. Both options were possible: consequently the first ought to have been taken, and was not.

There is a lamentable ignorance on matters Christian at some Oxford high tables in my experience; but that is scarcely a charge that can be made against at least 3 of these 4. How about on matters evangelical? Now you're talking. That is a live possibility, and one that has in the past sometimes had more to do with differences in social class (ie snobbery)than with differences in intellectual level.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 1:28pm BST

Has Stephen Bates actually read the report then?

A bit of further digging around would have revealed that Wycliffe topped other PPHs in the Norrington table as well as eight other colleges such as Corpus Christi and Exeter. Was Stephen really unaware of this when he wrote his article or did it just weaken his tenuous 'Wycliffe must improve its academic standards" argument?

Posted by Paul Frost at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 4:07pm BST

Stephen simply reported the outcome of another report, Paul.

If Wycliffe wishes to act as some sort of fundamentalist cabal, they really shouldn't try and claim any academic credibility - after all, conservative theology by its very nature has no academic credibility, since it refuses to take a critical approach to the authority of the Bible. Such theology should be taught in American degree mills, not respected universities.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 6:18pm BST

Hi Merseymike-

If Wycliffe were as you say it is, they wouldn't be doing so well in the Norrington table in the first place. Therefore it must be your perception of Wycliffe that is wrong. In Dick France's final year as principal in the mid-90s, all 5 (from memory) Wycliffe students entered for Theology BA got firsts, ie were in Oxford's top 10-15% academically. Prof McGrath has maintained the high international reputation since.

For all I know the report may be utterly accurate. That is not the point. The point is that there is no warrant for regarding official reports as fundamentalists regard the Bible, ie that they represent the one official and correct view and dropped from heaven with no particular human author[s]. C'est dogmatisme.

(1) To find out 'Oxford University's view' on something one would have to consult all the members/resident members of Oxford University, who wouldn't in any case agree. The present report emanates from much less than 0.01 percent of the University.
(2) I very much doubt that a report headed by a [former] Vice Chancellor and [former - and also present?} Pro Vice Chancellor would be much revised or re-edited by anyone subsequently, in this or other instances. So we can take it as basically the product of those four individuals.
(3) Was the idea of having PPH enquiry precipitated by any problems at Wycliffe, or is there no connection? If the former, one would expect the make-up of the Gang of 4 to reflect this.
(4) It is undeniable that a different set of 4 people would have produced a different report.
(5) It is also undeniable that this particular set of 4 people is calculated ( I don't mean 'deliberately calculated') to be more than averagely critical of Wycliffe: 'averagely' by reference to the pool of other possible people who could have been chosen.
(6) It is thirdly undeniable that a report which lays cards on the table (biases, prior history, preconceptions) is better, more honest, more truthful and more academically rigorous than one that does not.
(6)

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 1:26pm BST

Like cryptogram I am very concerned about the comments made by Christopher Shell about members of the working party for this still unpublished report. Discussion of possible bias is one thing, personal insinuations and smears (when authors are under embargo and unable to answer) are very different. Thinking Anglicans seems a devalued resource for having descended to this.

Posted by Viv Faull at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 1:27pm BST

Don't see why knickers are being got in a twist....it is hardly news to anyone that authors have their views and are by definition biased.....Dr Shell is not being rude or controversial

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 2:39pm BST

>one that has in the past sometimes had more to do with differences in social class<

So now it is class entering into it!

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 3:41pm BST

Christopher,
I'm sure you have worked in large organizations where committees, often of less than four people, are constituted to look into an issue and report back to the governing body of that organization, also, usually, formally constituted of representatives of the organization, not the entire membership. Organizations, as a matter of course, give their "view" on something based in this model. It's even the way Western democracy works! We're not consulted on every single statement our governments make. To suggest that, in order for Oxford to give it's view on what is happening at Wycliffe, the entire membership of Oxford University, or even of its Board of Regents, would have to be involved is absurd. You are creating a straw man here. Organizations delegate this kind of responsibility all the time, indeed, it's hard to see how anything would get done otherwise.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 4:15pm BST

With the greatest respect Merseymike, Stephen was not simply reporting the outcome of another report. It was another piece of spin and rehash of old material.

Of course it is only liberals who can claim any academic credibility... I keep forgetting that.

Posted by Paul Frost at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 4:18pm BST

Re: Ripon College Cuddesdon - no it is not a PPH, but has a historic agreement whereby its students can matriculate as members of the University. Those studying for Masters courses apply to the University not to the college (as do all graduate students in Oxford).

Re: the committee set up to report on PPHs - to take only the comments about Wycliffe, and thereby to judge the report on the basis of perceived agendas of the committee's members is highly unhelpful. Can anyone indicate what was said about all the other PPHs? If they too came in for the sorts of criticisms levelled at Wycliffe, then it is hardly an anti-evangelical agenda at work, is it?

Posted by Hannah at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 12:21pm BST

hi Ford-

Yes, precisely. And that is why any claim to be an 'official' report in all these instances - if this implies that this is a faithful representation of the mind of a much larger body - should be taken with a pinch of salt.

One could, for example, read David Alton's illuminating account of how Baroness Warnock and so on constituted a self-perpetuating and utterly unrepresentative succession of working parties. Or Patricia Morgan's work on how OTT types of 'child-centredness' and children's rights in various areas of modern British life stems largely from a small coterie, even from one individual - all unelected.

It is a kind of fundamentalism: this view that the product of a tiny group of people wshould be taken to represent the will of a far larger group. Of course there are those in whose interests it is to promulgate such a view. That is precisely why it should be resisted.

For example, Stephen Bates would be well within his rights if someone issued a portentous statement beginning 'The Guardian believes...' when the contents were things that he emphatically did not believe.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 1:40pm BST

Amazing the excuses people come up with to excuse a college which clearly isn't up to the mark.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 2:47pm BST

There seems to be much discussion on this site about comments made by Stephen Bates. One only needs to look at a list of his published works to find that he is strongly against evangelicalism, so it is no surprise at all that he has gleefully jumped on the Wycliffe Hall story to do a bit more evangelical bashing.

I like Paul Frost`s quip above about liberals assuming that they are the only ones with any academic credentials. That is certainly in much doubt given that Wycliffe has just topped the PPH Norrington table!: I wonder what Giles Fraser is going to say about that, given that he thinks Wycliffe has no love for learning?

The comments on this site about the PPH review are largely nonsense: Wycliffe is not singled out in it, and the leadership of Wycliffe are fully engaged with implementing its recommendations.

Posted by Matthew Firth at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 3:58pm BST

I wonder how many cheer-leaders for Wycliffe on this thread are its conservative evangelical students...?

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 8:53pm BST

Have you not read Bates' A Church at War? A stunning forensic analysis of our perennial strife, which should be on the first term reading list of Wycliffe freshers. Evangelicals come out worse than others because of attitudes to gays. That's not evangelical bashing - after all he's married to one! - but a statement of reality. I've yet to read a convincing rebuttal of his account of events and quotes, and the conculsions that can be made.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 9:23pm BST

The use of the Norrington Table to defend the College by Matthew and Dr Turnbull (the latter in his recent press release) is questionable. Although Wycliffe is indeed ranked at the top of the PPH section of the Norrington Table, this only reflects the work of 14 students out of a college of well over a hundred. Furthermore, of these fourteen students, many would have taken the B.A. as a second degree (unlike the majority of students taking the B.A. at St Benet's, Regent's Park, Greyfriars etc.) and would have received a significant part of their teaching from either staff in other colleges or from staff members who have since left Wycliffe because of Turnbull. The Norrington Table is thus not a particularly helpful indicator of whether Wycliffe is offering a suitable academic environment for the many more students taking the B.Th. or other programmes taught internally, nor indeed whether Wycliffe has overruled the University’s policies on equal opportunities, harassment, and the protection of freedom of opinion and speech. In light of the treatment of staff over the past year, the restrictions placed upon students and staff to speak openly about the current situation, and the appointment of a man to be Vice-Principal who does not believe in a woman's right to teach or lead, it would seem that Wycliffe still has plenty to explain to the University authorities despite the Norrington Table.

Posted by Daniel Inman at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 9:23pm BST

Daniel, you write "In light of the treatment of...the restrictions placed upon students and staff to speak openly about the current situation, and the appointment of a man to be Vice-Principal who does not believe in a woman's right to teach or lead, it would seem that Wycliffe still has plenty to explain to the University authorities...
"

I'm not sure about restrictions to staff speaking openly - although the existence of some kind of confidentiality policy whereby employees cannot disclose inside information is certainly not unusual in any institution. However, students have never had restrictions placed upon them - another rumour I'm afraid.

These beliefs of the VP are surely irrelevant to the university unless numerous other PPHs (e.g. St Benet's, Greyfriars) also have a lot to explain. It would be different if the VP was discriminating against female students/staff but since he has just started and term has yet to begin...

Merseymike - the hidden assumption being that you have absolutely no bias...

Posted by Paul Frost at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 11:35pm BST

Paul, whilst I accept your point about the VP (I'd never thought of it like that...at least Wycliffe gives women the opportunity to study in the first place!), I distinctly remember reading on Wycliffe's noticeboard when Dr Wenham resigned a notice which said that students should not speak to the press... though I would happily accept correction. My hyperbole aside, I still think my point about the Norrington Table stands...the Principal needs to do more if he is to win back the confidence of the University which has for many years held Wycliffe in very high esteem (Wellington Square will not be impressed by the press statement), not to mention the episcopal bench. As one who migrated from Wycliffe to another Oxford college after completing the B.A., and as one who loves the Hall greatly, I certainly hope he can.

Posted by Daniel Inman at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 12:28am BST

>I wonder how many cheer-leaders for Wycliffe on this thread are its conservative evangelical students...?<

I wonder how many Wycliffe-bashers on this thread are liberal catholics (who may or may not have been booted off Ship of Fools for being rabidly anti-evangelical)?

By definition, Wycliffe's students, including it's non CE ones, are going to have input into this discussion as they will know the situation 100 times better than armchair-based report readers. I have spoken to non-CE Wycliffe students and they are far from upset with the changes that are happening there.

Posted by Robert Klein at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 9:59am BST

Daniel, now you mention it I vaguely remember some kind of notice at Wycliffe. IIRC it was a request from the principal to direct press enquiries to himself to avoid further fabrications / exaggerations in the midst of what was then a mini media frenzy. I saw it as a sensible request and not a restriction on open speech and I cannot even remember any eyebrows being raised by the request by my fellow students - many of whom, shall we say, are slightly more opinionated than your average lap dog.

I agree that the Norrington table isn't knock-down proof but it is the only indicator used in the public domain that is current as far as I know.

Posted by Paul Frost at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 10:32am BST

"booted off Ship of Fools for being rabidly anti-evangelical"

As someone who frequents SoF, I'd like to say that I have witnessed a lot of Evangelicals crying "anti-evangelicalism" when all that has happened is that people have been defending themselves from the smug, self-righteous attacks of Evangelicals, rather like what one sees here. Those who get banned, and there have been people on both sides who have been banned, cross the line, and deserve their banishment. Why is it that anyone who defends themselves from rude, insulting behaviour on the part of Evangelicals is always accused of being "anti-evangelical"?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 1:30pm BST

I am not a `conservative evangelical`, but as a current student at Wycliffe I am supportive of the changes that are being made. The college is really improving its ministerial training and is putting in place proper management which was effectively non-existent until Dr Turnbull took up his post.

As for accusations that the college is academically narrow, that is utter nonsense. I am on the internally taught BTh course (an Oxford University Degree course) and for each of my essays my tutors have always stressed the importance of fully engaging with all strands of scholarship. Even though the Norrington Table isn`t a great indicator, if Wycliffe was as narrow as is claimed it would have come right at the bottom!!

Daniel Inman claims he `loves the Hall greatly`. Perhaps he should then stop being so critical of it and Dr Turnbull on sites like this. His experience was as an undergraduate there, so he can`t really comment on the very different world of one of its ordinands. Even if Wycliffe were to become narrow in its vocational courses, the BA undergrads would be largely unaffected since the vast majority of their contact time is with tutors outside Wycliffe.

Posted by Matthew Firth at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 4:23pm BST

Robert Klein assesses the situation well.

Posted by Matthew Firth at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 4:24pm BST

Matthew Frith simply shows he has been taken in by the propaganda of the Principal. The college has NOT improved its ministerial training but it has taken a rapid downward turn with the resignation of Geoff Maughan, who had improved it under Alister McGrath. And as far as management is concerned - I have yet to talk to anyone who feels the management style of the present principal is anything other than high-handed and dictatorial. I have been shown examples of the threats issued.

Posted by bertie g. at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 9:29pm BST

For my previous comment on this thread, read: 'Stephen Bates would be well within his rights to complain if...'.

Is one factor the current trend to seek managers rather than professors when appointing college heads? This in turn is the result of the government's exerting financial pressure on Oxford, Cambridge, Durham because of their collegiate structure.

Posted by Chirstopher Shell at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 12:56pm BST

bertie.g - the ministerial training has improved at Wycliffe, and so has the management of the college. I have been there one year now, and even in that space of time I have noticed good improvements.

Posted by Matthew Firth at Friday, 24 August 2007 at 10:13pm BST

Where is the love of Christ in all this?

Posted by Ken Hyde at Friday, 21 September 2007 at 8:09pm BST
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