THE Revd Professor Jeremy Duff, the Principal of St Padarn’s Institute, updated the Governing Body on the latest changes at the fledgling theological college. St Padarn’s had now been recognised by the Government as offering higher education; this brought in new funding opportunities, but also new regulations, such as the counter-extremism programme Prevent. The college was getting good exam results, had won the contract to train military chaplains, and was doing more consultancy across Britain, he reported.
But the process of setting up St Padarn’s was not complete, he went on, and there was plenty of work to be done, particularly in improving its Welsh-language offering.
The Revd Patrick Thomas (St Davids) said that he was pleased to hear about the renewed emphasis on Welsh, and asked how the process was going in developing theological though and teaching in Welsh first, rather than just translating it from English.
The Revd Zoë King (Llandaff) criticised the report from St Padarn’s, describing it as “flimsy”, and lacking in a string of important details, such as total student numbers or a diocesan breakdown. How could the Governing Body support and uphold St Padarn’s without comprehensive information about the challenges it was facing, she asked.
The Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Revd June Osborne, who sits on the council of St Padarn’s, thanked the staff of the Institute for their hard work during the difficult early years of the college. She particularly wanted to applaud the collaborative leadership and “honesty” of Professor Duff as Principal.
Ruth James (Monmouth) said that, as a distance-learning part-time student at St Padarn’s, she was not able to have the same experience as the full-time students, as she could not access the Institute’s library for her studies.
Responding to the debate, Professor Duff said that there was still a long journey to go on, supporting the development of Welsh-language theology, mostly in hiring more Welsh-speaking staff. He asked for more clarity about what the Governing Body wanted the annual report to include, if it was not giving enough detail. There was no ban on part-time students’ accessing the library, but, geographically, it was difficult if they lived elsewhere in Wales. He was working with theological publishers to open up their catalogues online.