St John's College drops full-time residential training

14 November 2014

iSTOCK

Remote possibility: St John's is looking to expand training through distance learning 

Remote possibility: St John's is looking to expand training through distance learning 

ST JOHN's College, Nottingham, will no longer offer full-time residential training for ordinands, under new plans announced this week.

The theological college will continue to train men and women for the priesthood, but only as part-time students, or full-time but embedded in a parish or other context. The Principal, the Revd Dr David Hillborn, said on Tuesday that the college would also look to expand in other areas of training, including distance learning.

"There is a place for full-time residential training, but for St John's our focus is going to be other forms of training," he said. "We are planning to teach out our current students and then transition to 2016 to a new model in which we develop new forms of context-based and part-time training."

He said that he believed this was the prevailing wind around the world in theological education. "[It may be] residential, not necessarily on a dedicated college campus, but at the coalface."

Dr Hillborn said, however, that financial concerns did play a part in the decision to reinvent St John's. He said that every theological college in the Church of England was having to make up a shortfall in funding for every full-time residential student it had.

"All the institutions are finding the current climate challenging, and we would rather be ahead of the curve. Having looked at this from every angle with some very talented people, I believe that what we are announcing is actually very much within the flow of where theological education is going within the Church of England."

Some money to fund the changes will come from selling off buildings on the college campus which will no longer be required after the departure of the last residential students. Dr Hillborn said that no decisions had been made on specific posts that might also be cut, but there would be "new configurations", which would be discussed with staff and students over the coming months.

"The consultation so far has been with our trustees, who are unanimous in moving in this direction, and also our senior management team, who again have been unanimous in voting for this new direction," he said.

The only students to hear of the plans before they were made public were their representatives on the board of trustees.

Last year, St John's announced a five-year renovation plan for its entire campus, which included a £3.5-million appeal.

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