Despite unclear future of fall term, University maintains increase in BISC enrolment targets

Queen’s would not say whether first-year BISC students will be guaranteed spots on Kingston campus 

The Senate Committee on Academic Development (SCAD) reported last month that the first-year enrolment target at the castle has increased from 138 to 155 students for 2020-21.
Journal File Photo

Ahead of the June 1 acceptance deadline, COVID-19 is posing uncertainty for first-year enrolment at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC).

In a statement to the BISC community, Principal Patrick Deane, who also serves as the Chair of the Board of the BISC and the Herstmonceaux Castle Enterprise (HCE), confirmed on March 25 that the University remains “fully committed” to the success of the BISC, despite the “unfortunate consequences” that current public health issues could possibly have on enrolment levels in the fall.

The Senate Committee on Academic Development (SCAD) reported last month that the first-year enrolment target at the castle will increase from 138 to 155 students in 2020-21. This increase, developed prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, was approved by Senate at a meeting on April 14

While the University scrapped summer programming at the castle on March 16 because of the pandemic, it said in a statement to The Journal that Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment is still working to meet this target for the fall.

“We are actively monitoring the impacts that COVID-19 responses are having on our operations both in Canada and in England,” the University wrote. 

At the time of publication, all first-year offers remain in place. However, the method of course delivery in the fall term will depend on the development of COVID-19.

Queen’s is also monitoring the UK government visa process. All UK Visa Application Centres in Canada have been closed since March 20 and they aren’t scheduling appointments until a reopening date is confirmed. 

“Any changes made in delivery as a result of COVID-19 will not impact the quality of the BISC’s programs,” the University wrote, saying that Queen’s and the BISC will be offering the same quality of education, experiential learning opportunities, small class sizes, and personal academic coaching and instruction “no matter” what the future might hold.

When The Journal inquired about whether first-year students who have accepted an admission offer to the BISC would be given a spot on the Kingston campus if the castle is unable to open because of COVID-19 travel restrictions or the advice of local health authorities, the University did not offer a direct response.

The University did not specify how Queen’s would ensure students have access to housing in Kingston or equal opportunity to pursue courses on the Kingston campus if students are unable to attend the castle for reasons out of their control this upcoming September.

Instead, the University said it’s continuing to plan for the fall term at the BISC.

“Decisions regarding the continuation or suspension of international activities are informed by updates we receive from Global Affairs Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, and information regarding the status of operations at our international partner institutions,” the University wrote.

When The Journal inquired about the possibility of a later start date for the fall term at the BISC, the University said it’s actively planning for a variety of contingencies. The same approach to scenario planning is underway for upper-year programs.

The University added that any decisions or alternate arrangements will be communicated directly to applicants by email as they become available.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation,” the University wrote. “Information and directives concerning [U]niversity-sponsored travel [is] subject to sudden change.”

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