This means that, once the paperwork is signed off, IBI will be in official partnership with YSJU. We design and deliver Certificate, Diploma, BA Honours Degree and Masters Degree in Applied Theology and students graduate with YSJU qualifications. The new courses kick off this September.
It is very much a two-way partnership: the validation process has involved us revising and refreshing everything we teach. We’ve added a Youth Ministry track and a Christian Leadership track to the BA Degree and a Christian Leadership strand to the MA.
The event on Friday was the culmination of discussion and work going back at least a year. The new partnership feels like a really good fit. YSJU have a long track record in theology and religious studies, particularly with the Church of England since it started out as a Diocesan College for teacher education in 1846. It became a university in 2006.
YSJU has an outstanding reputation for teaching and learning and this fits well with our passion to deliver ‘excellence in theological education and leadership development’ in the Irish context.
The panel last Friday consisted of academic and administrative staff from YSJU as well as a couple of external theological experts who asked plenty of tough questions.
Achieving new validation has rightly been a very rigorous process; looking at everything including how does the degree structure and content actually ‘delivers’ the aims of the programme. In other words, HOW does a student actually learn and develop the skills and critical self-awareness relevant to Christian ministry?
Lots of other things were also examined: physical resources, teachers’ qualifications, finance, future plans, assessment, staff resources and development etc etc.
One of the most encouraging things about an excellent day was a long list of commendations we received from the Panel on the quality of what we have been doing.
And this whole process has been a reminder of what a great team I have the privilege of working with at IBI. For a small college on limited resources, I think it’s pretty remarkable what has been achieved by the grace and provision of God.
Wee theological point here: hard work and grace are not incompatible! It is merit and grace that don’t go together.
They met a bunch of students (without staff present) and were impressed by the passion, learning, enthusiasm and obviously positive experience they had had at IBI. (we’ll have to pay off the students later …. 😉
What do you make of the idea of a secular university validating the courses of a Christian college?
There is a long history of debate around this question, both in universities and in Christian colleges … and I’ll come back to this in a later post.
But for now, we’re thanking God for answered prayer for a good partner to take IBI on to the next stage ….
Comments, as ever, welcome.