THE Archbishops’ Council has agreed to provide Westcott House with a loan to prevent its closure.
The Council says that it does not have a “general policy” of offering such help, “but has accepted the arguments for doing so in this case”.
It refuses to confirm the exact amount. It is understood, however, that the secured interest-bearing loan — currently subject to agreement — totals £800,000, to be transferred in March, and that further funding will be provided, through to 2023.
Other elements of the financial arrangements put in place to ensure the college’s short-term viability are receipt of a promised donation of £700,000 (donor not named), and a £200,000 interest-free loan from the diocese of Hong Kong — subject to a contract under discussion. Westcott has built connections with the Anglican community in Hong Kong, including an ordinand exchange.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council said: “We can confirm that the Archbishops’ Council is in discussion with Westcott House about the possible provision of a financial facility to contribute to the college’s stabilisation around a sustainable future. We are not commenting on details; the possible amount remains for discussion. The facility would take the form of a secured interest bearing loan.
“The Archbishops’ Council has not made a similar financial facility available to other theological education institutions. It does not have a general policy for doing so, but has accepted the arguments for doing so in this case.”
Bishop Tim Stevens, interim principal of Westcott House, said: “We continue to work towards ensuring that the unique strengths of Westcott House as a provider of ministerial training at the heart of Cambridge University, remain a key part of the offer from the Church of England to its candidates for ordained ministry.”
The chair of Westcott’s Council, the Bishop of Whitby, the Rt Revd Paul Ferguson, acknowledged this month that the college was “under financial strain”, and had had to consider whether it was “viable in the long-term” (News, 17 February).
After St John’s college, Nottingham announced that it was closing last year, the Ministry Division denied to comment on whether it would intervene to prevent another TEI from closing (News, 6 December). The Archbishops’ Council has occasionally provided small interest-bearing loans to TEIs from a restricted fund to help finance specific projects such as building works.