BAC London classes risk cancellation

Officials have extended the application deadline for the Yale in London spring session until Friday, after a significant drop in the number of applicants this year threatened to force the British Art Center to cancel the spring program for the first time in its 27-year history.

The extension came at the request of students who had already applied for the program this year, who said they could use the time to recruit the four to six additional students necessary to fill the program’s extra space. The reasons for the low demand are still unclear, but it is possible that this summer’s terrorist attacks in London may have influenced students applying for the spring, said David Mills, associate director of the BAC. But students in the two consecutive Yale in London summer sessions this year remained in the program despite the attacks, he said.

“We don’t know whether recent events affected it,” Mills said. “The bombings took place during the first summer session and no one dropped out from either program.”

Lydia Shook ’07, who took part in the Yale in London program this summer, said although the bombings frightened her, she did not at any point consider dropping out.

“The last few weeks we were there it was on my mind, but I guess it’s part of living in a big city,” Shook said.

Students participating in the spring Yale in London program spend the semester living in the West End and enroll in four specific Yale-approved arts courses taught by Yale faculty. They also take a number of trips around England, included in the cost of regular Yale spring semester tuition.

Lindsey Counts ’07, who participated in the spring Yale in London program last year, said she thinks a lack of advertising caused the apparent lack of student interest in this year’s spring program.

“Many students know of the program, but are unaware of its details, which causes a lot of under-information,” Counts said.

The lack of flexibility in the choice of courses the Yale in London program offers also may discourage students from applying, Claudia Setubal ’07 said.

“There isn’t a lot of variety of classes, and you end up having to take classes that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to you even if other classes are in your interest area,” she said.

Officials at the BAC said they do not think the drop in demand this year is the beginning of a long-term trend. The close-knit nature of some class years may discourage students from traveling abroad for an entire four-month semester, they said.

Amy Meyers, director of the BAC, said she thinks this year’s low demand is an anomaly.

“All academic programs have ups and downs that flow, and it may be a fluke year,” Meyers said.

No session of the Yale in London program has ever been cancelled, but subsequent sessions would continue to be held in such a case, said Jo-Ann Forslund, the program’s administrative assistant.

“I am getting applications for the summer program already [and] we are starting to line up professors for teaching in the spring 2007 session,” she said.

Students who have already applied for the spring program have been sending e-mails to friends and student groups to encourage others to apply before Friday, Laura Heiman ’07 said.

“An e-mail was sent out to all English majors [and] a Yale College-wide e-mail will be sent out [Monday],” Heiman said. “It’s a big decision to make in such a short space of time, but I am hopeful that more students will apply.”

Although the Yale in London spring program is usually limited to sophomores and juniors, officials will consider applications from seniors and freshmen for the spring 2006 session, said Frank Salmon, assistant director for academic activities at the Paul Mellon Centre, where Yale in London classes are taught.

Heiman said the spring session’s cancellation would be problematic for students who have already applied for Yale in London but still want to study abroad elsewhere.

“It would be awful for [us] because we won’t be able to go study abroad as the deadline for other programs was Oct. 14,” she said.

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