Students have this month returned to the Bader International Study Centre based at Herstmonceux Castle after an 18-month gap without them during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Students returned to their home countries in March 2020 as the pandemic swept across the globe, cutting short their studies and time at the Castle which is owned and run by Queen’s University located in Ontario, Canada.
Courses were rapidly converted to an online version and the Castle fell silent as not only students fled but the Castle was forced to close its doors to visitors as well.
The Castle reopened to the public in April of this year, but it’s taken until this September for courses to restart in person with a raft of Covid safety measures being put in place to protect students, staff and the visiting public.
Most students have travelled to the Castle from Canada, a green list country, with a small number coming from other countries and having to undergo a ten-day quarantine period before they could join their classmates. Safety measures in place include all students and staff wearing facemasks in Castle buildings and daily monitoring for Covid-19 symptoms.
Dr J Hugh Horton, Vice Provost and Executive Director at the Bader International Study Centre said this week: “We are delighted to have students back and for near to normal life to have returned to the Castle. It’s been a very strange 18 months during which we successfully moved our provision online but nothing can match the outstanding experience we are able to offer students in person.
We have taken every step possible to ensure our reopening is done in a safe manner for not only our students but also for our staff and visitors to the Castle.”
The Castle has operated at a campus of Queen’s University since the mid 1990’s and is home to approximately 150 fee paying students at any one time, supporting 100 local jobs and attracting £5m a year from the University which ensures the Castle, an important heritage site and part of the East Sussex landscape, is able to stay open to the public. Queen’s University is one of Canada’s oldest universities and a member of the U15 group of leading Canadian research universities. It was also recently ranked 5th in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, an assessment of over 1,100 universities for their work on sustainability.
Students, staff and local representatives were recently invited to congregate in a marquee at the Castle for the official Opening Ceremony at which every student and new member of staff is presented with an official scarf. Students were not only welcomed by the academic staff at the Centre but also by Herstmonceux resident and Board member, Alan McInnes.