The University of Chester plans to double the number of theology partnerships it operates with colleges and other higher education centres by September 2010.
To support this ambition, the University’s newly appointed Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies has taken on the twin role of Partnerships Manager. Dr Paul Middleton joins Chester’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Wales, Lampeter, where he was also responsible for this area of work.
The University of Chester is keen to expand the number of partnerships it operates because it believes they widen access to higher education level studies for people from all walks of life.
Professor Robert Warner, Head of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester, said: “Widening access to higher education is one of the University’s core values, as is its commitment to theological education and service to society. Collaborative provision is part of the future for higher education and we aim to become the leading provider of theological partnerships in the UK.”
The University already works with six theological colleges and expects to have reached agreement with a further six by September 2010. Conversations are under way with other colleges with a view to commencing partnership in September 2011.
The colleges with which the University has teamed up say partnership enables them to benefit from the University’s standards, expertise and resources. In turn, this gives their students the opportunity to study where they want and gain a University of Chester degree on successful completion of their course.
Dr Middleton, a graduate of Glasgow, Princeton and Edinburgh, said: “While the University has Anglican foundations, our growing reputation across the theological disciplines, but especially contemporary, contextual and practical theology makes us well-placed to develop partnerships with mature colleges in all theological traditions.
“We are seeking to develop partnerships across the UK. By September, we should have agreements with colleges from as far afield as Northern Ireland and the south east of England. We plan to develop even more partnerships in the years ahead.”
Dr Middleton’s role will include supporting colleges through implementation of their partnership with the University, offering detailed guidance on University procedures and Quality Assurance issues.
Prof. Warner added: “The University of Chester is widely recognised as a leading centre for the study of religion in the contemporary world. Dr Middleton is a superb addition to an already vibrant Department.
“He will greatly enrich our teaching and research in the New Testament. His partnership experience will be invaluable in welcoming a growing number of colleges and other training schemes into theological partnerships with us.”