Select Committee on Innovation, Universities and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 86

Submission from the Society for Old Testament Study

  The Society for Old Testament Study is the learned society which represents scholars working in the study of the Old Testament in British and Irish universities. It has around 450 members, who include virtually all Old Testament scholars in Britain and Ireland.

  The Society has concerns about the impact that the proposed new legislation on ELQs may have on its subject area. Many students who study the Old Testament do so as part of University courses in Theology, and of these are good number are ordinands in various Christian churches. The majority of such ordinands are already graduates, and as part of their training they undertake a B.A. or B.Th. degree in Theology, which for them is therefore an ELQ. Particularly affected are ordinands in Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham. In Oxford, for example, the statistics are as follows (and those for Cambridge and Durham are comparable):


  There are currently seventeen ordination candidates for this degree who are all graduates, all of whom therefore are studying for an ELQ.


  There are currently ninety one full time and part-time candidates studying for this degree: eighty six are ordination candidates or clergy completing the qualification after ordination. Of these, seventy one ordination/clergy candidates are studying for an ELQ.

  The new legislation could have the unintended effect of making it impossible for such ordinands to study for their degrees, since in the nature of the case those who are going on to a career in ordained ministry are unlikely to earn the money that would enable them to obtain sufficient loans to cover their fees, and the churches are not in a position to fund them fully. This will impact adversely on the study of the Old Testament in the UK and is therefore a cause of concern to the Society. We believe that exemptions, as for health-care professionals and those studying Islam, should be extended to such students.

January 2008

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