THE former Principal of the University of the Highlands and Islands has urged the Free Church to think seriously about providing Scotland’s first Christian university.
Professor James Fraser has set out his a vision for Christian education which includes Christian schools in every Scottish city linking with like-minded partner organisations.
Professor Fraser is the chair of the Free Kirk’s most senior committee, the Board of Trustees, but has extensive experience in senior management in higher education in Scotland.
The Kiltarlity Free Church elder said: “A Christian university would teach and research within the pre-suppositional framework of a Christian worldview. It would welcome people of all faiths and none to its student body.
“The Scottish Government should rethink the financing of Universities to enable a more pluralist system. Scotland has some of the most excellent universities in the world but needs to offer more variety and greater competition.
“A Christian university would have to flourish in a market place by having excellent and quality courses delivered to a standard of excellence that would attract both Christian and non-Christian students.”
Professor Fraser also indicated that a Christian university would differ from other Scottish universities as its teaching would fall out of a Christian worldview and its research would be framed within that worldview.
The former UHI Principal continued: “All teaching and research is shaped by the values of the institution and its staff; and today in most Scottish universities the values framework is derived from a radical secularist worldview.
“The secular worldview is by no means universally accepted by the people of Scotland. We need to serve Scotland better by giving people greater choice.”
With the prospect of funding a university being a formidable task – Professor Fraser called on the Scottish Government to think again about the allocation of a greater share of the state funding of universities through the voucher type system, that used to be championed by Professor Graham Hill of the University of Strathclyde.
Professor Fraser speculated that the genesis of such a university might come from the Free Church’s Seminary in Edinburgh, which already provides university level courses in partnership with the University of Glasgow.
The Board of Trustees chairman, talking about the nation’s schools, added: “An education system cannot be value free – our present state system is permeated by a mixture of pernicious secular values and leavened to some degree by a legacy of distinctly Christian values.
“We need to debate how we are going to prevent the secularisation of our children through the media and the education system, because if we continue to lose them we will have no future whatsoever as an institution.
“If we fail to do this we fail our generation fundamentally and we capitulate to secularism”.