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Methodist dream stays on the shelf

The Methodist Church has shelved plans for an international college to train tomorrow's world leaders because it is short of cash.

Plans for a college for 16 to 19-year-olds were announced four years ago when it was expected that pound;50 million would be raised through wealthy benefactors.

The fundraising effort began after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Since then, the church says, potential sources of funding in the United States have dried up. It had been hoped that the college would open this year.

Graham Russell, education secretary of the Methodist Church, said: "The plans are still there and are carefully archived. If the appropriate philanthropist ever materialised, then we would dust them down. I still think it's a good idea but the realities just did not match up. The best chance for a project like that was American money. But after 911, that was no longer a realistic runner."

A 500-student, mixed college was planned, with a curriculum based on the International Baccalaureate. It was to be built near an international airport.

The idea was to draw students from a wide range of social, ethnic and faith backgrounds, including non-Christian religions. The college also hoped to attract able students from abroad.

Much work had been done to create an internationally acceptable curriculum that would have included politics, business, languages, ICT and ethics. The college would have helped to prepare students to be leaders in the international business community, politics, finance and the church.

The curriculum would have been underpinned by the moral and ethical dimension that is an essential feature of the 14 Methodist secondary schools and 57 primaries.

The chapel would have been at the heart of college life but all major world faiths would have been studied. A two-year baccalaureate would have been backed up by extra-curricular drama, music and sport.

During the early planning stages for the college, Brian Greenwood, chairman of the International Methodist Church working party, said: "It would be wonderful if, say, the future president of Argentina could be educated alongside the future president of Ghana."

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