Making Space for Faith

January 30, 2007

Author: Peter Kingston

Source: The Guardian,,2001447,00.html

Some people think matters of religion have no place on the college campus and that the youngest of the three education sectors - further education emerged in 1993, though some colleges have roots going back into the late 19th century - should remain faith-free.

Most students, however, do not share that view, according to a new poll by Focus Consultancy carried out in colleges across the country. More than three-quarters of the students asked told researchers they think further education colleges should make provision for people's faith needs.

More than half - 55% - say "values, beliefs and faiths" are important in their own lives, and two-thirds say they are more likely to feel part of a college that actively encourages dialogue and activities between people and communities of diverse faiths and backgrounds.

"Some argue that it's woolly-liberal to talk about educating the whole person, but, actually, you may well get much better retention, achievement and motivation if you develop students' skills in the context of a more rounded human being," says Ann Limb, chair of the National Ecumenical Agency in Further Education (Neafe), which commissioned the research.

Two-thirds of college staff think students aged 16 and over should be legally entitled to "social, moral, spiritual and cultural development".