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Top marks for Union Theological College


Top marks for Union Theological College

In the latest National Student Survey (NSS) scores, Union Theological College has been identified as Queen’s University, Belfast’s top performing school by overall student satisfaction.

As students prepare to return to the College later this month for the start of the new academic year, the most recent National Student Survey scores for Queen’s identified Theology at 91%, up 2% on last year’s survey, as the top-performing school by overall student satisfaction, followed closely by Pharmacy, History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics.

The NSS gathers students’ opinions on the quality of their courses. The results of the annual survey, which are published by the Office for Students (OfS), were carried out independently for the OfS by the specialist market research company Ipsos MORI. Over 330,000 students were surveyed in over 400 UK universities and colleges.

Speaking about the latest NSS results, Union Theological College Principal, Very Rev Professor Stafford Carson, said, “I very much welcome these exceptional results, which paint a very different picture of College life than that which has been portrayed of late.

“Over the last number of years National Student Survey results have shown increasing levels of student satisfaction by those taking Theology as a subject at Queen’s, which is taught at Union, in virtually every area that the survey addresses. The credit for this is entirely down to our staff, both full time and part time members of the team, some of whom are world leaders in their respective academic fields.”

The relationship with Queen’s University began in 1927 and up until recently Union was one of the four recognised theological colleges that provided the teaching for theology degrees offered by Queen’s through the University’s Institute of Theology. In April 2019 the University announced that it would no longer award degrees in the subject, following the completion of courses by current students. Queen’s theology undergraduates will complete their BA at Union College in 2021.

“These positive and encouraging results come after April’s announcement, by Queen’s, that our long and mutually beneficial academic relationship would be coming to an end. The Quality Code for Higher Education emphasises the importance of listening to the student voice, so these findings will continue to provide important feedback for the College as we look to the future.

“In looking to the future, we have already begun to develop our student base, through new online and campus based courses. For example, in June, we announced the introduction of 10 new courses, 7 of which will go fully online this month. The courses, in a variety of subjects, are at Master’s degree level, as well as graduate and postgraduate certificate and diploma level. A PhD will also be offered. Other initiatives will be announced in due course,” Professor Carson said.

“The potential to develop our work and the opportunities before us are significant, and while we will obviously seek to maintain our confessional commitment and Christian ethos, the College will continue to explore the difficult and hard questions that relate to religious faith and belief. And as we welcome students from all backgrounds, irrespective of denominational background, we will continue to be actively engaged in research that extends our theological understanding of important issues in contemporary life,” he said.

As part of its broader educational remit, the College will be presenting its autumn seminar series in a few weeks’ time. Called ‘Theology for All’, the series of six Thursday evening classes will take place in October and November, starting on 17 October. For further details, including the cost and how to register, call 028 9020 5080.