I was sad but not unsurprised to hear that Oasis College will no longer be recruiting students to their undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
You can read Adrian Smith’s statement (College Principal) in full here. Here’s some key parts of the statement:
Unfortunately Oasis College has also seen a steady decline in students, despite having a positive recruitment strategy in place, supported by staff and resources. We have failed to recruit our minimum target of students for a number of years. Consequently this has put a stress on the financial resources available and as a result, the College Board has had to re-consider the future direction of the College.
In the light of the financial implications specifically brought about by low recruitment levels for the current 2016-2017 academic year, the decision was taken by the College Board to no longer recruit to our undergraduate and postgraduate courses. In practice this means that no new undergraduate and postgraduate students will commence studying at Oasis College.
Oasis College will still seek to provide short and continued professional development courses for the foreseeable future and will continue to recruit for these courses.
Changes to the landscape of higher education always made this likely. Ever since the development of higher fees for undergraduate degrees through the Higher Education Act 2004 universities funding has become increasingly consumer driven. The top Russell group of universities are able to fund their budgets through a combination of high students numbers willing to pay the higher fees (now £9,000 plus inflationary increases) and large research grants.
For smaller colleges or departments it is impossible to compete because the research funding has often been cut in the more specialist areas not linked to industry (which Brexit will potentially only make worse by losing more EU funding) and they are not able to attract sufficient student numbers to balance the books.
What this means for the future of youth work and youth ministry isn’t clear. The sector itself is much smaller, but with fewer teaching and research institutions, representing a narrower brand of youth work I don’t see this being a positive step.