A single provider for Catholic tertiary education is expected to be fully in place for the 2020 academic year as the Provincial Council of the Society of Mary has agreed to relinquish co-ownership and governance of Good Shepherd College in Ponsonby.
In a letter to the staff of the merging institutions, establishment board chair Sir Brian Roche, KNZM, said the Provincial Council of the Society of Mary informed the New Zealand bishops that “the society would prefer to withdraw from its current commitments to
co-ownership and governance of Good Shepherd College, but retain its commitment to teaching”.
The society also confirmed that it supports the bishops’ plan to merge GSC with The Catholic Institute (TCI).
Sir Brian said the bishops “want a measured pace of change which ensures least disruption to the programmes, students and staff in both current providers”.
He said the establishment board’s working assumption is that the single provider will take
shape within the year and be in place next year.
“The bishops remain fully committed to forming seminarians in New Zealand, with face-to-face delivery of the theology degree and Ratio Studiorum requirements as a vital element of their formation,” Sir Brian wrote. “They [bishops] are also committed to a qualified workforce in New Zealand’s Catholic schools, to assure the quality of both Catholic special character and religious education.”
GSC acting principal Fr Merv Duffy, SM, gave an assurance that the needs of the new students will be met even with the merger.
“NZQA has been very clear that all students embarking on an award must have a pathway to completion. So, the interests of the students will be carefully looked after,” he told
Fr Duffy noted there is a good intake of new students this semester, with 20 out of 59 studying at GSC for the first time.
“Our own students are the best advertisement for the college and they have told others about the experience of studying here. We have done little (perhaps too little) to publicise the college,” Fr Duffy said, adding that, “diocesan offices have been good at directing enquirers to study at Good Shepherd College”.
He also said that more than half of the students (30 of 59) are studying by distance rather than on-campus.
Seminarian numbers are down with only three new diocesan seminarians studying at the college and no current seminarians from the Society of Mary studying there.
Fr Duffy said the college is fully staffed this semester. They have a visiting lecturer from Peru, Mayte Ramos, who is teaching Church History.