The Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle in England costs Queen’s more than it’s worth to students’ experience. It’s time for the University to consider investing its money into better programming.
This past year, the BISC has seen a significant reduction in the number of students enrolled in both fall and winter semesters. That decrease in enrollment has brought a decrease in revenue.
The BISC has bolstered Queen’s prestige as a university with an international campus. In theory, the idea of studying abroad in a castle is appealing. It’s the BISC’s execution that falls flat and winds up discouraging students from attending.
Regardless of the reputational benefits of the BISC, one thing is certain: the BISC is no longer a financial asset for the University—and it hasn’t been for some time.
The BISC Board of Trustees has raised concerns about the financial viability of the campus since 2012. The University has since employed several strategies to boost enrollment during the fall and winter terms, but with little long-term success.
The BISC is a financially inaccessible campus. This year’s Winter General Program cost is just shy of $21,000. Even with a combination of external and Queen’s bursaries and financial aid, a semester at the BISC can often cost more than an entire year’s tuition at Queen’s Kingston campus.
Beyond the price of classes, residence, and food, students must also shoulder the costs associated with travelling and studying abroad, such as acquiring visas, travel insurance, and flights.
The students who can afford to attend the BISC aren’t guaranteed the experience of a lifetime. Students who have attended the BISC have reported numerous instances of sexual misconduct at the campus, along with a lack of appropriate administrative response.
The campus’s sexual misconduct response reflects poorly on the University, and makes the castle experience potentially unsafe for the students there affected by the sexual misconduct incidents. It’s time for Queen’s to consider selling.
The BISC has passed its opportunity for revitalization—eight years of attempts to combat declining student enrollment have failed.
Queen’s funded the campus in the 90s in the form of an interest-free loan, and the BISC still owes the University money today. The castle won’t make a miraculous financial recovery on its own, and Queen’s has already sunk many resources into attempts to make the satellite campus more viable—with few returns.
That money and effort needs to be rerouted to address pressing issues here on main campus in Kingston, like unsatisfactory mental health services.
Other Ontario universities fare just fine—if not better than us—without a castle. Queen’s should cut its losses and say goodbye to the BISC.
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