Office for Students accepts Spurgeon's College after earlier rejection

Spurgeon's College, London is one of the UK's leading Baptist theological colleges.Facebook

The Office for Students (OfS), the official regulator for the higher education sector, has accepted the application of Spurgeon's College after an earlier rejection.

The flagship Baptist institution said it was "pleased" that the OfS had decided to approve its registration after denying its original application in August. 

The college has been a training centre for Baptist ministers for the last 163 years and has been at its current site in Croydon, south London, for nearly a century. 

The OfS turned down an earlier registration application from Spurgeon's, citing concerns over its financial sustainability. 

At the time, Spurgeon's vigorously challenged the verdict, calling it "unfair and misguided", and insisted that its finances were sound. 

"The college is a charity with a robust balance sheet, funds in the bank and plans for the future," it said. 

The college had feared that the decision would leave its students in hardship because registration with the OfS is required for students to be eligible to access financial support from the Student Loans Company. 

It had considered launching legal action and called on the then universities minister Jo Johnson to intervene. 

Spurgeon's said that the OfS had decided to accept its application after "considerable effort from our staff, Governors and wider family". 

"Spurgeon's College is pleased to announce that the Office for Students (OfS), has approved our registration," it said.

"We are delighted that following this decision we can continue with increased vigour on our core mission to train men and women for Christian ministry." 

It continued: "We would like to thank everyone including our friends in Parliament, the House of Lords and the wider Christian community for their efforts and prayers."

It added: "We thank the OfS for working with us in a constructive way on this matter."

The OfS said in a statement that it stood by its original refusal to approve the registration of Spurgeon's and that it had accepted the college on the basis of a new application that satisfied the financial requirements. 

"After the OfS had informed the college that its application for registration had been refused the college took steps to improve its financial position," it said.

"It made a new application for registration on 8 October 2019. This second application contained new information, including evidence of material factual changes relevant to the college's financial position.

"The OfS has assessed the new evidence submitted by the college and has determined that it has now demonstrated that all initial conditions of registration are satisfied. The college will therefore be registered in the Approved (fee cap) category of the OfS's Register.

"The OfS remains firmly of the view that its original decision to refuse registration is legally robust and appropriate on the basis of the evidence submitted by the college, including during the representations process, and the factual position that existed at the time. The OfS therefore strongly refutes the public statements made by the college that suggest otherwise."

This article has been updated to include a statement from the OfS.