The Jesuit Trustees have issued the following statement on the current situation of Heythrop College and the Intellectual Apostolate:
Recent changes in the financing of British Higher Education have led to rapidly-mounting costs. They have affected small specialist colleges disproportionately, and theology has been especially vulnerable. In the face of these external pressures, the Governors of Heythrop College have not been able to devise a sustainable financial plan to enable the College to continue in its present independent form, despite continued support from the British Jesuits. The Province Trustees, as the only funders of last resort, have judged that they are unable to resource the resulting shortfall indefinitely, while acting responsibly towards the other ministries of the Province, including those of the intellectual apostolate.
The College Governors, with the agreement of the Province Trustees, therefore decided in June 2015 to withdraw from the University of London at the end of the 2017-18 academic year. A series of discussions then followed, exploring alternative paths to preserve Heythrop's specific mission. Detailed negotiations with the University of Roehampton seemed especially promising, and the Province remains grateful to the University's leadership for their constructive and flexible approach.
Any successful future project, however, depended on gaining support from several key external partners. Despite much dialogue and much goodwill, these external bodies were unable to offer the necessary level of support. Accordingly, with support of the Trustees, the Governors have now appointed a Principal who will oversee the orderly closure of the College and implement the 'teach-out' leading up to this.
The Trustees recognise, with gratitude, the dedicated work done by the staff, some over many years, in enabling Heythrop to achieve all that it has done since it moved to London in 1970. We also recognise, with sadness, the extent to which the careers and livelihoods of these staff (academic, administrative and auxiliary) are affected by the decision to close.
The British Jesuits are committed to a re-modelling of their intellectual apostolate and have begun a new phase of broad consultation at home and abroad to help identify and develop new and creative ways of thus serving the Church and wider society in Britain now and into the future.
We live in a world of great humanitarian need and exceptional political turbulence in a culture in which religious literacy is diminished. We are part of a Church which Pope Francis has, with inspiring intensity, called to fundamental reform and renewal. The intellectual and spiritual life concerns itself with all of these things, and we believe that in partnership with others, the Society of Jesus has much to offer the Church and world, as well as much to learn.
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