Universities and theological colleges in Australia

Drawn from a recent study in The Future of the Biblical Past, this table provides a schematic overview of the history of the relations between universities and theological colleges in Australia. The paradox here is that precisely because we don’t have a hard and fast division between religion and politics (‘church and state’), Australia is one of the most secular countries you will find.

Types of Independent Theological Colleges

Type Nature Teaching Research Economics
Wagons in a circle Independent theological colleges in order to provide unique brand of ecclesiastical education. Emphasis on training for ministry, partisan theology and exegesis for sermons. Not encouraged. Churches relatively wealthy, with enough money for buildings and teaching staff.
Federation Consortia of colleges with powers relating to course approval, granting of degrees and maintenance of standards. As above, but more uniform and with greater awareness of theological diversity. Lip service. Not quite so wealthy. There is a greater need to share resources between colleges.


Types of Relations Between Theological Colleges and Universities


Type Nature Teaching Research Economics
Donut Secular university surrounded by church-based residential and teaching colleges. Best example is University of Melbourne. Non-existent in university.Taught by surrounding theological colleges. As with independent colleges. Theological colleges remain independently funded but make use of some university services (internet and library).
One foot in each camp 50-50 deals, such as at Murdoch; staff supplied by churches, paid partly by churches and partly by university Subject to some university requirements re course numbers and content. University resources and expectations can be, but are not often, conducive to research. Churches are short of money while universities seek to cut costs on funding.
Old rubber stamp The university offers the degree and controls course structure but teaching is done almost entirely by part-time staff drawn from churches and theological colleges. Prime example is the former School of Divinity at Sydney University. Better but still varied, since all teaching is part-time. Haphazard and individually motivated. University supplies buildings and pays teaching staff. They are still part-time and still drawn from churches.
New rubber stamp Universities like Charles Sturt offer the degree, but it is taught entirely by theological colleges. The college is the theology department. University approved but in reality depends on college. Substandard with a tendency to self-publishing, although occasional exceptions may be found. Church colleges attempt to exploit ‘privatisation’ tendencies to gain much-needed money and university credentials for degrees.




4 thoughts on “Universities and theological colleges in Australia

  1. You’re so Aristotelian. But I’m puzzled. Under which category would you place WITCH, the theological institution formed at Hallowe’en 1968, also known as the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.