Review of Presbyterian college’s links to Queen’s University to be completed in October
A review into links between Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and Union Theological College (UTC) will not be completed until October, it has been revealed.
The exercise will be carried out by a panel including experts from outside both institutions.
UTC is run by the Presbyterian Church, but also educates theology students of other denominations at Queen's.
The Church came under heavy criticism recently when it announced a ban on couples in same-sex relationships from being accepted as full church members.
Queen's, a Russell Group university, said the review will be "comprehensive" with UTC stating that it will work closely with the university throughout the process.
A spokesperson for Queen's said: "The university is taking forward a full and comprehensive review of the governance, management and delivery of Queen's academic programmes within Union Theological College. It is expected that this review will be completed by October 2018."
A UTC spokesperson said: "To ensure students are offered an enriched learning experience we participate in a range of regular reviews. We look forward to working closely with Queen's regarding this anticipated review."
It is not yet understood who the panel of external experts are that will sit alongside members of each institution.
The findings aim to conclude with recommendations on how both facilities can work together for the benefit of students.
UTC stands behind the main university campus at Queen's and caters for around 200 students. It was founded in 1953 and has focused on the Protestant teachings of Christianity in its 65-year history.
As well as providing teaching for students with no desire to go into ministry, the college provides pathways for those who do wish to go into the profession.
In 2016, an internal review was conducted by Queen's which revealed there were no full-time female teaching staff within UTC. It also appealed for an increase in diversity among students and staff at the college.
Last month, Professor of Church History, Laurence Kirkpatrick, was suspended for describing the institution as a "'getting on' exclusively Presbyterian male teaching facility".
Former Alliance leader and Presbyterian elder David Ford said at the time he was shocked to hear that "open and honest discussion" could lead to sanctions being imposed.