Study Abroad Mishandled Brandeis in The Hague
Since 2010, Brandeis students have experienced The Hague, a Dutch city that houses the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, through University-led spring and summer study abroad programs. This coming spring, however, students will be unable to participate in the program. According to an Aug. 6 email sent to students registered for the program, Brandeis in The Hague has been suspended because it can no longer accept U.S. Federal Financial Aid due to "administrative errors" between the U.S. Department of Education and Leiden University. The email listed other programs students could apply to, and offered acceptance to the Summer 2019 Brandeis in The Hague.
Until the Aug. 6 email, students had no idea the program might fall through — despite the Office of Study Abroad’s admission in the same email that they had been working on the issue "over the past year." According to Sam Cohen '19, the University had been aware of a potential issue since July 2017.
Worse still, despite Brandeis being aware that the program might be canceled, students applying to The Hague program last spring were instructed by their study abroad advisors not to apply to any other programs — though students usually apply to multiple programs. "They said, 'We need you to make sure this is your number one program,'" Cohen told the Justice. Cohen said that he "didn't really think about a second choice" because the Office of Study Abroad told him he would be able to apply to other programs if he was not accepted to Brandeis in The Hague. The Office of Study Abroad did not mention that the program might be canceled.
For Cohen, Brandeis in The Hague was a chance to complete his Politics major and make progress on his International and Global Studies major; classes he had been set to take in The Hague would have fulfilled his remaining requirements. While the University emailed students a list of replacement spring 2019 programs with application deadlines in September and October, some students may not be able to find an option that fulfills the course and possible internship requirements they would have satisfied in The Hague.
Because of the email’s timing, students intending to study in The Hague must now scramble to complete new applications while transitioning into the school year; on top of keeping up with their regular coursework, they must obtain new letters of recommendation and compose essays for their chosen replacement programs.
The Office of Study Abroad could not be reached for comment as of press time.
This board is disappointed by the University’s lack of transparency and foresight regarding Brandeis in The Hague. Knowing for over a year that the program might fall through, the Office of Study Abroad should have ensured that potential participants had backup options; by discouraging students applying to The Hague from applying to any other program, it did the exact opposite. The University should work to make study abroad placement an effective and transparent process, and this board calls upon the University to be more proactive in the future.