A letter from Tom and Judy Harvey in England
Latest News of the Harveys
Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Dear Friends and Partners in Mission,
Of late the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS) has been caught up in the whirlwinds of British higher education and the demise of the University of Wales that validates (accredits) OCMS degrees.
On October 22 the University of Wales, the 2nd largest university in the UK with 70,000 students registered worldwide, announced it was ending its 1893 royal charter and disbanding the university as of September 2012. As a result it will be ending all its validated programs and a new University of Wales: Trinity St. David will be established in its place. This announcement was the result of several scandals arising at the university and infighting amongst the alliance Welsh universities that had pulled away from their merger with the larger University of Wales. Further, the scandal that broke into the UK press brought into question Biblical and theological degrees not fully designed and controlled by the university. Thus several Christian colleges and seminaries lost their accreditation as a result and are now without accredited degree programs.
Naturally these events sent shock waves through the higher education sector of the UK and around the world and affected OCMS as well in that we have 120 scholars either registered with or planning to register with the University of Wales for research degrees.
After the announcement I took a series of coordinated steps to address the situation. First, I counseled with officials of the university to clarify what the actual implications of the ending of the university in its current form are for OCMS, and then I informed our students, alumni, faculty, staff and administration accordingly that:
The new University of Wales: Trinity St. David will oversee all students currently enrolled in the University of Wales as of September 2012.
For all those registered there is a duty of care that requires that they be able to complete their degree course. Thus, upon successful examination they will receive a University of Wales degree or, if they wish, they may receive a University of Wales: Trinity St. David degree.
For those not yet registered with the University of Wales, registration remains open through September 2012.
After 2012, registration will be through the new university.
Though all validations of undergraduate and masters level courses will no longer be validated after 2012, research degrees such as ours at OCMS will continue to be validated by the new university.
Second, the above events encouraged us to enter into conversation with several universities all of whom have expressed interest in working with us to develop a validated partnership. Each institution we’ve communicated with represents an excellent opportunity with aspects that would be very conducive to OCMS and its future development. It was encouraging that officers and senior faculty of these potential universities with whom we communicated affirmed the excellent standard and reputation of OCMS and the relevance and importance of its global research. Certainly the last few weeks have been challenging, but in all truth we sense this is a "kairos” moment for OCMS. Nonetheless, establishing degree programs is complex and involve careful negotiations. This is my first validation exercise, but I have good and experienced guides to lead me through the process. Do pray for the process as we meet with key officials from different universities, that we might discern how to proceed to establish a fruitful relationship to the glory of God.
In the midst of these events, signs of God’s good providence abound. The final touches of the West Gallery Project that will add 10 new study carrels and two offices are being completed. We just had a new cohort of students enter the program that included Chilean, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Nigerian, Tamil, Egyptian, Indonesian and American students. They are looking at a variety of interesting issues from apologetics to issues in mental health, to diaspora groups and effective ministry. They come from a wide variety of church and ministry backgrounds and have already made a substantial contribution to the research community of OCMS.
On the family front, Emma is happily ensconced in her studies at Durham University. She is enjoying herself immensely and doing well in her coursework. She is appreciative of how well her high school program here in Oxford prepared her for the rigors of university and that this has allowed her to make a fast start. She has been active in sports but is now sidelined due to injury. She hopes that this can be resolved soon so she can get back into action.
Judy continues to prepare for leading a mentoring program for the women of our church as well as the discipleship courses we will run in the spring.
We are now making plans to visit churches in the Southeastern United States in January and February, so we are looking forward to seeing many of you very soon.
Tom, Judy, Joe, Paul and Emma
Address: 25 Hayfield Road
Oxford OX2 6TT England
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 196
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 268
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