University Of Edinburgh New College

By | 1st June 2017

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University Of Edinburgh New College

University Of Edinburgh New College

New College in The University of Edinburgh is one of the largest and most renowned centres for (post)graduate studies in Theology and Religious Studies in the UK, with students in M.A., M.Th. and Ph.D. degree programmes coming from over 30 countries. There are now nearly 40 full-time members of the academic staff, and they include internationally respected scholars in various specialities.

New College originally opened its doors in 1846 as a college of the Free Church of Scotland, later of the United Free Church of Scotland, and from the 1930s has been the home of the School of Divinity (formerly the Faculty of Divinity) of the University of Edinburgh. As “New College” it continues the historic commitment to offer a programme of academic preparation for ministry in the Church of Scotland, also made use of by ministerial candidates from other churches. In the 1970s the Faculty of Divinity also began offering undergraduate degrees in Theology and Religious Studies, and students in these programmes now make up the majority of the nearly 300 undergraduates enrolled in any given year.

The founding of New College came as a result of a religious conflict that emerged out of the Disruption of 1843 in which clergy and laity left the established Church of Scotland to establish the Free Church of Scotland – free from state connections and submitting only to the authority of Christ. New College was established as an institution to educate future ministers and the Scottish leadership, who would in turn guide the moral and religious lives of the Scottish people. New College opened its doors to 168 students in November 1843 and, under the guidance of its first principal Thomas Chalmers, oversaw the construction of the current building in 1846.

Prior to the 1929 reunion of the Church of Scotland, candidates for the ministry in the United Free Church studied at New College, whilst candidates for the old Church of Scotland studied in the Divinity Faculty of the University of Edinburgh. During the 1930s the two institutions came together, sharing the New College site on The Mound. “New College” can designate the site itself, or the legal entity that continues to function in an official relationship with the Church of Scotland, the Principal of New College appointed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and responsible particularly for Church of Scotland candidates for ministry. The current principal is the Reverend Professor David Fergusson, OBE. As the “School of Divinity,” however, it is a unit in the University of Edinburgh with a much wider remit, and is led by the Head of the School of Divinity (currently Professor Paul Foster), who is appointed by the University, and who oversees the larger academic and financial operation. Over the years, a number of notable figures have been among its academic staff, including Robert Rainy, Thomas Chalmers, Hugh Ross Mackintosh, James Barr, Thomas F. Torrance, James S. Stewart, John Baillie, John McIntyre, Ruth Page, Norman Porteous, Marcella Althaus-Reid, Andrew F. Walls, and others.