Our British member The Free Churches Group has recently written an open letter to the British 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 well-being of students and the ongoing contribution of universities to society.
Revd 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 the provision is not made to address the “digital divide” in society.
The use of graduate salaries as a measure of the 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, Mr. Rochester says, should be key agents for social mobility, overcoming barriers to an 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 the study if social distancing means that university campuses have reduced capacity.
The letter ends with an invitation to the Minister to have a further conversation about ways in which churches might play a significant role in the national recovery and other areas of education policy.
To know more about our member’s concerns about Universities and Students in the COVID-19 Pandemic, have a look at their open letter.