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Statement from Heythrop Students’ Union following the Governing Body meeting –25th June

Following a meeting of the Governing Body of Heythrop College on Thursday 25th June 2015, a decision was taken that following the completion of all outstanding commitments, Heythrop will cease be a college of the federal University of London in 2018.

This deeply regrettable situation has been heavily influenced by the changing environment of higher education through Government policy, leading to the marketisation of higher education. Unfortunately, the level of both human and financial resources required to operate our discerning, valuable and personal approach to education has exceeded that available to us from our valued supporters.

To avoid this particular outcome, the College has diligently researched its strategic future by focusing on two options: a partnership with St Mary’s University, Twickenham; and an autonomous model, in which Heythrop remained a constituent college of the federal University. Upon investigation, both of these models proved to be unviable, exceeding resources made available by the College, and the Society of Jesus – to whom we are most grateful. The HSU considers it a great shame that another operating model could not have been found, nor that other options were fully explored.

It is hoped that by the end of 2018 both Heythrop and its key stakeholders can find an alternative model to continue the life, mission and work of the College. The HSU calls on the College to consult, in a spirit of openness and honesty, with students when looking into ways to continue the mission of the College. Heythrop has been an educational institution for over 400 years, and along with its tradition of academic excellence in the fields of Theology and Philosophy, part of its charism is to change- a manifestation of our Ignatian character.

The HSU hopes that this alternative future will continue to engage a wide range of students, particularly in stimulating dialogue between those of differing faiths, as well as those of no faith. Moreover, we hope Heythrop will continue to form and prepare individuals for the modern world, instilling them with the analyticity, discernment and wisdom that our disciplines are so renowned for.

The HSU wishes to formally note that this course of action bears no relation to Heythrop’s academic quality. The results of the Research Excellence Framework, 2014, show that both the College’s ‘Research Environment’ and ‘Research Impact’ are ‘World Leading’.

The staff at Heythrop have shown outstanding levels of dedication to the College and its students, not least in their active participation in Heythrop’s personal approach to learning. This has been, and continues to be, instantiated in our regular one-to-one tutorials, seminars, and willingness to academically engage with any and all students. This deep rooted commitment to a formative approach to education gives Heythrop our truly collegial character, and the HSU sincerely hopes every effort will be made to preserve this character in any possible future.

This decision to leave the federal University represents not only a loss to the University, but also to the Academy in the UK, Europe, and even the world. Heythrop has not only contributed substantively to the Academy, but has played a proactive role in today’s society which is fraught with tensions, both local and international. The HSU recognises that the role theology and philosophy play is necessary, crucial and transformative across all sectors, public and private.

The HSU, as ever, remains committed to our current members and has worked with the College to provide a package of enrichment opportunities for students over the coming years. The HSU is also in the process of appointing two new members of staff who will assist the Union during this difficult time. The funding for these new opportunities has been generously provided by the Society of Jesus and the HSU wishes to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Society for their support of Heythrop students. Students were contacted on Friday 26th June by the Principal and the Students’ Union. The HSU will be hosting several informal sessions both during and after the summer vacation, to give current students a place to speak freely and ask questions. As a product of these sessions the HSU will be writing an open letter to the College by the 31st of July, which all students will be invited to participate in.

Students have been reassured that all current student support services are still available. The HSU’s new executive committee, led by Oliver Holdsworth and Stefan Barratt, will be the first line of support for the student experience over the coming year - both of whom welcome any questions and queries you may have.

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