From The Bradford Chapel Newsletter
A recent statement from UCM seems a good opportunity to try and summarise what is a fluid and changing situation.
There are many issues – some to do with the changing general profile of the Unitarian movement in the UK – but there seems to be four key institutional and inter-related factors:
1. There are now fewer ministers in training (although UCM has been more affected than Harris Manchester College – Oxford). UCM in 2018 will have zero students.
2. For quite some time now the vast majority of trainees for ministry have been mature students embarking on a second career. They often have family and caring commitments and need a more flexible training pattern – not always, but often through distance learning programmes.
3. UCM does not have the infrastructure, finance or personnel to set up as an accredited distance learning establishment.
4. Financially UCM is increasingly struggling to balance the books. Annual operating costs were c. £70,000 (for just one student in 2017/18). Investment income meets about half of this expenditure – the rest has to be raised from grants and donations – and that is increasingly difficult.
The denomination foresaw this situation, when it established a list of competencies for ministerial training and more recently by creating a Unitarian College CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) to be the umbrella organisation to “facilitate …training that is delivered in ways that meet the students’ individual learning needs.”
UCM supports the Unitarian College CIO and it seems likely that financial resources will be transferred. The situation is developing but issues remain and questions remain unanswered.
There will be an opportunity to get an update and participate in a question and answer session at the 2018 UCM AGM at Luther King House at 11.00am on Thursday 25th October 2018. Look out for details nearer the time.