Theology and religious studies in British higher education is suffering a major decline, according to an educational group that specializes in humanities and social sciences.
The London-based British Academy recently released a report titled “Theology and Religious Studies Provision in U.K. Higher Education,” which found that there were approximately 6,500 fewer students enrolled in theology and religious studies courses in higher education during the 2017-2018 academic year than in 2011-2012.
“While the study and research of theology and religion remains an attractive area for many, it has seemingly fallen foul of the many challenges faced by the higher education sector, and particularly since the reforms to fees and funding in 2012: the number of students studying theology and religious studies degrees has fallen by a third,” noted the report’s Foreword.
“Fewer students means additional pressures on schools and departments to demonstrate their worth or face closure. The U.K.’s specialist theological institution, Heythrop College, founded in 1614, closed its doors in 2018 after over 400 years of teaching.”
The report also found that there was a significant gender gap and age gap when comparing theology and religious studies with other fields.
Women made up 37% of academic staff in theology and religious studies, versus 53% for similar humanities subjects. While the average age for academic staff in theology and religious studies was 47, in the fields of philosophy, classics, and history the average age was 43.
Professor Roger Kain, vice president of Research and Higher Education Policy at the British Academy and co-author of the report, said in a statement last week that the report came at “a critical time” for the academic field.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski