Several academics have raised concerns after it was revealed that the University plan to scrap Religious Education at undergraduate level.
A petition addressed to Principal Gerry McCormac has already reached 1024 out of 2000 signatures. It calls upon the university to keep the department open or to at least seek full consultation with staff, students, communities, the wider public.
Stirling’s course is highly regarded in the discipline as it is not linked to Christian theology, unlike St. Andrews, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities. However current students starting in September will still be able to complete their studies. The news will also jeopardise up to four jobs in the Religious Studies department.
Professor Jolyon Mitchell, President of Theology and Religious Studies UK (formerly The Association of University Departments of Theology and Religious Studies, or AUDTRS) told think-tank site Ekklesia: “We are very concerned by the news that discussions are taking place to bring about the removal of Religion at honours undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University of Stirling.– Ekklesia
“Stirling’s approach to the study and teaching of Religion, as something distinct from Christian Theology, represents an invaluable element in the Scottish TRS landscape and a vital contribution to international efforts to understand the role of religion in the contemporary world.”
A former student of the Religious Studies department said: “It deeply saddens me that the university are considering shutting down a department that offers an opportunity for students to learn about something that is so ingrained in our culture. Regardless of your personal feelings towards religion as a subject it is difficult to argue that a true education in something that provided the historical building blocks of our country and that of so many others is not a worthwhile one.”
A statement from the Student Union said:
Based on student feedback we have had regarding the on-going delivery of religious studies at Stirling, we have initiated a continuing dialogue with the University.
We want to ensure that students are clear on what may be happening and are not going to have their studies effected.
We feel that any decision taken on academic provision made must into account current and incoming religious studies students.Students should not be negatively impacted by any changes made and that will always will be the Union’s main priority.
Having said this, we are assured by the University that no current or incoming student will have their academic studies negatively impacted and that the University has at no time placed any students’ studies at risk.
We will continue to ensure that all parties, University and Union included, seek to provide the best possible student experience for everyone. We will do our utmost to keep students informed of what we are told about developments on this issue”. In the meantime, you can address any further concerns you have to Andrew Kinnell (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Hollie Cameron (email@example.com)”
by Jennifer Hale