Theology course to close following cuts

By Daniel Phillips
August 10, 2010

More details have emerged about Bangor University's closure of its courses in Theology and Religious Studies in three years time, as students express their dismay and disappointment.

Students have been told that the school of Theology and Religious studies will close in 2013, following cuts in higher education.

Theology courses are often not seen as being profitable as other university programmes. although the school’s website states that graduates are “particularly successful in gaining immediate employment.”

The school has been in discussion with an equivalent department at Lampeter University. However, when the decision was made by the University council to close the school, it was announced that it would now be “engaged in a partnership with University of Wales Trinity St David.”

A spokesperson for the school said four members of staff from Bangor would be taking up posts at Trinity St David from September.

Students returning in the new academic year have been told of provisional module changes with more information being provided towards the end of the summer. The effects of the closure are widespread with students bearing the brunt as their studies are affected.

Amy Hewitt, 20, studying for a Bachelors Theology degree at Bangor said: “I feel that the decision to close the department here in Bangor is a great shame and a huge loss for the university as a whole. Statistically the department is not overspending, has a strong intake of students and a good graduate rating - plus we have the privilege of being taught by some of the best lecturers in their particular field.”

“I think it is indeed a great shame to close the department in the University of Bangor as it has been an important part of the university culture and academia for over a century” said Stephen Neal, another undergraduate. ‘It is also a great shame that we are losing some very talented lecturers and professors this September three years before the closure of the school.

“On a lighter and more positive note I feel that the merger and creation with Trinity St. David in South Wales will be a great opportunity for all prospective theologians.”

The University said it would be “flexible” and “willing to help” students who no longer decide to study Theology/Religious studies at Bangor. The school has reported a lot of interest in the lecture posts that have opened up. Students hope this will produce good quality teaching for those finishing their degree.

The Anglican Church has been given very little time to respond. Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, on a recent visit to the ecumenical community of Taize, described the closure as “a pity” but also that it was “the church’s fault.” On the value of theology, he stated that such academic study “should be everywhere and for everyone.” He also believes the study of theology is being somewhat diluted by religious studies in higher education.

“I am really sorry that it is closing” said Sentamu whilst poignantly holding the cross around his neck. "Our Society benefits from theology, however, with closures and cuts made school by school, Britain is in danger of suffocating the study of God.”

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