Partner program to end

Queen’s-Blyth Worldwide announces it will discontinue this year

Queen’s-Blyth exchange program has seen low enrolment since 2011.
Queen’s-Blyth exchange program has seen low enrolment since 2011.

After a three-year trial run, the Queen’s-Blyth Worldwide (QBW) program, which allows students to complete University credits abroad, will not continue after 2014.

QBW was created in 2011 when Queen’s decided to collaborate with Blyth Education, a program that allows high school students to study abroad. The program also offers private schooling on its high school campuses in Ontario.

Alan Harrison, provost and vice-principal (academic), said low enrolment numbers led to the decision to discontinue the program beyond the pilot period.

“Enrolment was lower than anticipated and consequently the program failed to meet financial projections,” he said to the Journal via email. Students participating in QBW are offered three-week study sessions in May or June, where they have a choice of course and location.

For 2014, the destinations of Italy, Spain, Costa Rica and France have been offered. Queen’s professors accompany the groups to teach the courses. Each program costs approximately $4,500 to $6,000, excluding extra living costs.

A typical single term, or full-year exchange costs a student their Queen’s tuition, plus additional flight, lodging, food and transportation costs.

Enrolment for the last two years averaged about 116 students, Harrison said. However, efforts were made to promote the program, Harrison added. Information sessions are currently offered at UBC, York, Laurier and Western among others.

Harrison said many exchange options still exist for students for 2015 and beyond, including the Bader International Study Centre in the U.K.

“Queen’s continues to offer … a robust exchange program incorporating agreements with 148 institutions in 46 countries worldwide,” he said.

Controversy arose Oct. 2012 when several Queen’s faculty members contributed to an opinions piece published in the Journal. The article criticized the program for being ethically unsound and encouraging the privatization of education.

Professor David McDonald of the Global Development Studies department led the faculty effort to publish the critique in the Journal.

The article called for the cancellation of the program, and to pursue more in-house international programs.

McDonald said his feelings about QBW are the same as they were in 2012.

“The pedagogy of the courses were really problematic,” he said. “It was basically a kind of tourism with a Queen’s course attached to it.”

What was most problematic was lack of an ethical consideration when bringing students to the Global South, due to belittlement of other cultures in program descriptions, McDonald added.

“The courses that were going to be offered in Africa, Asia and Latin America just seemed to reinforce colonial stereotypes,” he said.

He said the form of education that Blyth promotes is inappropriate for Queen’s.

“[QBW] was just a form of privatization. Education should be public, and publicly accessible,” he said. “The fact that some of these courses were over $8,000 made the program out of reach for a majority of students.” He recommended that the University invest in in-house programs that are public and ethical.

“We’ve done internationalization at Queen’s in a very ad hoc kind of way, so we need … to develop a meaningful notion of internationalization,” he said.

McDonald added that he feels the University listened to his concerns and the concerns of other faculty members.

Kathryn Gibbons, who works as a student representative for QBW at Queen’s, said she was surprised that the program isn’t continuing, as it gives students another exchange option.

“Blyth programs are more accessible for people who need to work in the summer, because you’re only gone for one month,” she said.

Gibbons, ArtSci ’16, added that it can be difficult for programs to take off.

“It’s the way it goes. It was a newer program, so it takes time to build up a customer base,” she said. “It was just a test run.”

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