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The Rt Rev Tim Dakin, addressing the conference at the University.

Entitled ‘Our Distinctive Vision: Reflections on Higher Education from the Cathedrals Group,’ the ‘Colloquium’ brought together academic and professional services colleagues from Liverpool to Lincoln and from Canterbury to Winchester at the Queen’s Park Campus.

Keynote speeches were given by Dr Bob Bowie, Director of the National Institute for Christian Education Research at Canterbury Christ Church University, who spoke about teacher education in church-founded institutions as an example of serving the common good; and Dr Ros Stuart-Buttle, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies at Liverpool Hope University, who focused on the challenges and opportunities for teaching, research and knowledge exchange today in institutions where there is a Christian ethos.

Two of the sector’s leading Church of England advocates considered ‘The changing HE landscape’ and how, looking beyond the requirements of legislation and policy, the Cathedrals Group – of which the University of Chester is a member - collectively might influence that.

The Rt Rev Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, who is the Church’s spokesperson on further and higher education in the House of Lords, joined the Rev Garry Neave, National FE and HE Policy Adviser for the Church of England for this joint presentation.

Staff and governors from the University of Chester addressed the Colloquium on subjects ranging from governance to the University’s pioneering app, which promotes and supports students’ wellbeing.

One of the highlights of the day was a dramatic presentation by alumnae Hayley Riley and Louise Harris, collectively known as Haylo Theatre, who use performing arts to communicate complex concepts. They used their own experience at the University to address the debate about whether students are still learners at heart, or whether they are now consumers – and came down firmly on the side of the former.

The Rev Canon Dr Peter Jenner, Dean of Chapel at the University of Chester, said: “The Colloquium was a true meeting of minds, but not without appropriate challenge and academic rigour when discussing the particular issues faced by church-founded higher education institutions. The University of Chester was very pleased to host this important gathering, which we hope will be revisited in the future.”

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