Submission from the Society for Old Testament
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.