Pause for thought with Ray Dadswell: Balance at university

One of the greatest pleasures in my work is meeting and chatting with university students.

I learn so much from them, and I hope they pick up from me one or two interesting perspectives on life.

Back in 1963, a report on universities in the United Kingdom concluded that such institutions should have four main ‘objectives essential to any properly balanced system: instruction in skills; the promotion of the general powers of the mind so as to produce not mere specialists but rather cultivated men and women; to maintain research in balance with teaching, since teaching should not be separated from the advancement of learning and the search for truth; and to transmit a common culture and common standards of citizenship.’

High ideals, indeed. Nearly five decades have passed since that statement was made. Objectives achieved?

The new session is well under way and Eastbourne benefits from having many hundreds of young people living and studying locally.

Are they out and about in the town’s clubs and bars every night of the week? Not all, it seems.

David Field, second-year undergraduate, answers a handful of questions about his current lifestyle.

“I am the eldest of six children, five boys and a girl. I was brought up in a loving Christian family, and have attended church since I was born. I cannot say an exact date when I became a Christian but as I have matured in age, my faith has grown stronger and stronger, and the words which I once read from the Bible have now become truth.”

David’s course is physiotherapy, and he is open to God’s leading for the future. “Once I am qualified, I would love to use what I have learnt to really make a difference in people’s lives. Where, I don’t know at the moment, but I believe God has a plan for my life and he will guide me.”

It is not only study that is David’s preoccupation. “I am also the president of the Christian Union”, he says, “which has been an exciting opportunity for me and a great challenge. As a CU we recently put on several events during freshers’ week, from moving the new students into their halls to hosting a quiz. It gave us the chance to get to know and evangelise them. We are committed to living and speaking for Jesus, and it is our priority to reach out to the Eastbourne campus and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through that to make disciples of God.”

David has a favourite Bible verse, of course. Isaiah 41, 10: ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’

Can we affirm David and his contemporaries as they work hard to gain high-level degrees and, at the same time, share their testimony of God’s grace and love, that they are becoming ‘cultivated men and women’? They are putting in a lot of effort!