TRS-UK (the umbrella organisation for all UK Departments of Theology & Religious Studies and the relevant subject associations) is very grateful for the recent British Academy report on ‘Theology and Religious Studies Provision in UK Higher Education‘ [download here], despite its sobering statistics. The study of religion(s) and theology is one of the most intellectually vibrant and socially relevant areas of University study, and is thriving at the level of research and public impact, in both quality and scale. At undergraduate level, recruitment is challenging, but the British Academy report was, for practical reasons, unable to pick up all those studying the subject within other degree programmes. There is, in fact, a notable increase in students studying religion and theology within other (or interdisciplinary) degrees.
Students of Theology and/or Religious Studies (who may or may not be religious themselves) gain a deep understanding of some of the most significant phenomena and life-shaping questions in the contemporary world. They also acquire a large range of skills that enable them to find fulfilling employment in a great variety of jobs and careers. In fact, as this report shows, they have some of the best statistics in graduate employment. We are working increasingly closely with school teachers to signal what makes our multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary subject so interesting and relevant, and to advertise its value for many, varied kinds of work.
We are very aware that, as this report indicates, our gender ratios among postgraduates and academic staff are imbalanced, and efforts are being made in all Departments to address this. On this and other matters, the British Academy report is a highly valuable stimulus for discussion and action, and TRS-UK is keen to work with the British Academy, with school-teachers, and with all interested parties to reverse the decline in undergraduate numbers and to increase the understanding of religion, which is so important for the welfare of our society.