posters line walls of college entrance
The suspension of the Head of Theology Department at St Mary's University College Twickenham, and absence of several other staff members, including the college chaplain, has meant that some students have missed a number of classes. Several students have also voiced concerns over the lack of pastoral care and daily Mass on campus.
"Some third year students taking two courses: Eastern Christianity and Christian Worship, will have missed seven classes" programme rep Heather Kuhlman told ICN. "Others taking one course will have missed four."
Last Tuesday, around 30 students were told that a replacement had been found to take Fr Robin Gibbons' Eastern Christianity class, but when they arrived they were met by Professor Lance Pettitt, Acting Head of Theology, who told them that the new lecturer was unable to come.
A group of students will be meeting with Principal Philip Esler on Tuesday to discuss their future study programme. "We've paid for these courses. A few of us will be asking for a refund" Heather said.
"Some students are becoming really distressed" she said. "We are nearly at half term and some people are beginning to panic about getting behind with our studies. Also there's just the feeling that we have nowhere to turn. There is no chaplain to talk to, and no daily Mass."
Recently eleven students wrote letters to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) expressing their concerns over the merger of the Schools of Theology, Philosophy and History with Communication, Culture and Creative Art and the sudden suspension of Professor Anthony Towey, head of Theology. They received a reply last week which said: "We have considered the matter and we do not believe the proposals to merge the two Schools falls within the remit of QAA’s Concerns scheme.
"We understand that the University College has taken the decision to delay the planned merger until September 2013. We will be writing to the University College stressing that during the process of transition all necessary steps should be taken to protect the quality of the student learning experience."
"The letter didn't refer to the other concerns we mentioned" Heather said. "We are now going to write to the QAA again, and let them know about the latest developments."
To see earlier reports visit ICN's Education Section.