Religion and Higher Education

Institutions of higher education have overtime formed a cornerstone in strides made in technological advancement, innovations, and critical researchers in various fields such as science and technology. Higher education and its institutions have formed an integral part in the society with generations to generation benefiting from its inception. What is done with information in a given era is reflected in the institutions created to serve society (Durkheim, 1915). Higher education has sought to meet the needs of the society and this improves its engagement in research and teaching as well as rendering other services. With the development of higher education during this period, the society experienced many developments that had not been encountered before. This is because the scholars did extensive research on society issues and developed best approaches to solving them. Looking at the prospects of higher education can in most cases, be undertaken without looking at what influence and supported its inception. A look at the past will be inevitable when trying to get an insight strive for and dissemination of knowledge and modes of delivering this purpose by institutions through the ages. Religion is one of the main contributors of higher education right from the colonial era to the current date (Boyer, 1990).

Religion is a collection of cultural systems, beliefs and sometimes refers to moral values (Durkheim, 1915). World religious groups, which include Christianity, Islamic, and Hinduism, have overtime tried to spread their religious values to its followers and new believers. Thus, religious groups organized themselves in a way which they could outlay and instill in the minds of people their religious beliefs. They in turn, put in place educative systems, which would help them foster their faith. These educative systems in order to attract the attention of the persons intended, if had to entail the interest of those people. Churches, schools, and colleges, thus, were set up in different parts of the world to foster religious faith and at the same time offer education. The church and other religious units closely link themselves to the colleges they sponsor. They used these forums to instilling and taught the college community of its religious beliefs. These institutions are what form the basis of development of current world colleges of higher education such as Harvard and Yale Universities (Durkheim, 1915).

During the colonial era, colonies States acquired colonies in various parts of the world especially African countries. Each colonial State had a predominant religion, which follow suit to acquire new followers in the colonized states. Many religious grouping gained followers in the premise of offering civilization to the natives. Through these religious groups, schools and colleges were established. Higher education was introduced so that the natives could receive specialized training in specific skills that were meant to raise their level of understanding and coordinating society practices. With time, universities and well-equipped tertiary institutions developed with religion instilling the importance of both civil and religious life (Durkheim, 1915).

With time, those returning from graduate studies from within or other nation advocated for government sponsorship and addition of research in local institutions. Moreover, colleges of higher learning expanded beyond borders especially to countries with existing colonial ties. These colonial colleges have continued to exist to the current times (Cremin, 1970).

Religion has continued to influence higher education to date. Religious groups have played a crucial role in managing, financing, and governing institutions of higher learning. Some religious groups have also developed their curriculum, which is to be adapted as well as be followed by those colleges in which they sponsor. Religious groups have facilitated the constructions of various institutions of higher learning by either funding partially or fully. They have also continued to manage them while closely following its operations. These groups have also been able to sponsor students to pursue studies in such institutions. In addition, religion has also provided spiritual background to students and to addressing moral issues in the state (Cremin, 1970).

A number of factors have affected religion and performance of religious groups in enhancing higher education. Availability of finance has been a challenge in establishing and overseeing higher education. Governance has also been a challenge owing to interference by other organs and even the government. Political affiliation of the state has also determined how well a religious group relates with the government; thus, affecting the establishment and even the security of the institutions established by these religious groups (Boyer, 1990).

Religion has also had its complexities such as cultural beliefs of the people. Some religious attributes may not go well with the culture of the people; thus, raises the resistance. The changing trends and lifestyles may no longer fit the spiritual, moral, and physical expectations set by a religious group, which thus create friction between the groups (Cremin, 1970).

One of the main challenges facing the influence of religion in higher education is the deviation from spirituality by many young people. The changing lifestyle no longer sees religion as having a place in the contemporary society. Globalization and expansion has also created confusion in religious scenes since awareness has led to criticism of various religious beliefs. Religion and the populace; thus, should co-exist and find equilibrium for better service delivery (Boyer, 1990).


Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press Bates, A. (2000). Trends Shaping Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cremin, L. (1970). American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607-1783. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Durkheim, E. (1915). The Elementary Form of Religious Life. London: George Allen and Unwind Publishers.

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