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UK university shuts Brussels school, blames inflation

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Britain’s University of Kent is closing its Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) after 25 years in the EU capital as soaring inflation made it financially unviable, the institution told AFP Wednesday.

Staff and students said the decision, announced to them March 30, came without warning.

The university said existing students — many paying 27,000 euros ($30,000) a year for tuition — would be “supported to complete their studies” up until mid-2024.

“We are facing unprecedented financial challenges due to inflation and rising costs,” a university spokesman said.

“BSIS has been run at cost for a number of years which is why we have had to take the difficult decision to teach out our existing programmes.”

The BSIS took in between 50 and 150 students a year for masters and PhD courses in law and political science. It has seven professors and lecturers and called on a dozen visiting lecturers.

Several of them took to Twitter to criticise the decision and the way it was delivered abruptly, while the students’ union said in a statement it had left “students’ academic journey hanging in the balance”.

One member of the teaching staff, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity because his contract did not permit public criticism of the university, said the BSIS had been squeezed by problems outside its control.

“There was Covid, there was Brexit, and since then there’s been inflation,” he said.

He said student numbers declined in recent years because BSIS demanded British-level tuition fees much higher than those for rival courses at Belgian and Dutch universities.

But he said years of university mismanagement appeared to have contributed to BSIS’s demise.

The university said another school it has in Europe, the Paris School of Art and Culture, would not be closed “as it operates on a completely different (partnership) model to BSIS”.

It added that its vice chancellor, Karen Cox, would travel to Brussels next Monday to speak with students and staff about BSIS’s closure.

BSIS student Nethra Singhi, 26, said she did not know how she would be able to see her course through to completion next year given some of her professors’ contracts were terminated effective September this year.

As an Indian citizen, her Belgian visa is contingent on her BSIS political strategy and communication studies in Brussels.

She said she chose BSIS because it had offered “a gateway into an international career in Brussels” but was now left with “no information” about continuing her studies.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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