I attended a fantastic conference of Higher Education chaplains last week, down at the High Leighs Centre in Broxbourne, and was pleased by the character of many of my fellow chaplains.
When faced with the 'new model' of higher education - which is basically the commodification and marketisation of Universities, there was universal resistance.
Some one presented the new perspective from a Uni which had begun to follow the model. He quoted how the Uni had invested in the chaplaincy provision because he could demonstrate to the managers figures showing that it cost £65 per student to visit the counselling dept, but only £3.50 per person to see the chaplaincy.
If the chaplains had been a less polite bunch, he would have been booed of the stage!
Education is not a privilege, it is a human right. Its value to a society is immense, and cannot be so easily costed in terms of pounds and pence. Chaplains in general oppose the cuts to education services, and in particular, refuse models that call on us to be in competition with other HE institutions. Students are not simply 'customers'.
Chaplains are there to help the University value human worth, and continue the great tradition of education being a service to the local and wider society.
Chaplaincy is part of a liberating tradition, which encouraged students, staff and institutions to think far beyond commercial interests, and instead to help work for the common good and continually strive for a better world.