With a combined 300 year heritage Brisbane university colleges associated with the Uniting Church in Australia are caring for over 1000 students each year in a supportive Christian environment.
Principal of Emmanuel College at the University of Queensland Dr Stewart Gill said that the colleges are providing more than just beds for students to sleep on.
“We are offering pastorally sensitive academic support for the students while they are studying at the university,” said Dr Gill.
Matthew came from Bundaberg to Cromwell College without a support base in Brisbane and saw the college option as a good way to get a foundation for life in the city.
“It provided some structure and I didn’t have to go out all on my own straight from high school,” he said.
Principal Dr Sue Fairley said that Grace College had 13 different nationalities among its student population and that college life was like a “little United Nations”.
Ryan, a student from Cairns, said college life had forced him to mix with people from outside his comfort zone.
“I’ve got friends from all over the world who have all come together at Kings College to form one big group. You don’t become so shallow when you see all these different ways of life,” he said.
While accepting people of all faiths the church colleges have a spiritual dimension that perhaps does not exist in other accommodation options for university students.
Principal of Cromwell College Rev Hugh Begbie said that during the time that his wife was dying the college community was very aware that they were dealing with the pain and sorrow as a Christian family.
Rosemary, a Grace College student from Toowoomba, agreed that a belief system is very visible in the way the colleges operate and that pastoral care is always available to students when they need it.
Meaghan from Armidale said that arriving at Cromwell College she had found a group of Christians who had taken her under their wing, invited her to church, and involved her in small groups and chapel meetings
“Faith is really obvious in terms of Mr Begbie talking about Christian things at formal dinners and the activities which are run, like the ‘Beer Pizza and the Meaning of Life’ event,” she said.
Leadership development is another aspect of college life that is affirmed both by students and staff and Ashley from Grace said leadership opportunities at college were much more significant than at high school, and that she had developed significant people skills.
Mr Begbie reminds students and parents that college life is not a “risk-free” environment, “These young people are at a risk-attractive age and can be difficult to manage, but college life is an enriching experience which prepares them for a life in the world lived with integrity in the best possible way.”
Uniting Church related colleges serving Brisbane universities are:
Cromwell College www.cromwell.uq.edu.au
Emmanuel College www.emmanuel.uq.edu.au
Grace College www.uq.edu.au/grace
King’s College www.kings.uq.edu.au
Raymont Residential College raymont.com.au
Other Uniting Church related colleges in Queensland:
John Flynn College, James Cook University Townsville www.johnflynn.org
Photo : Students Ashley and Roesmary proudly wear the Grace College label