The time has come to get your visa!

We’re excited that you have decided to join us at the Castle! Now that you have accepted your offer, there are a few steps that you will need to take in order to make sure that you have a seamless start to your studies here in the UK.

This blog post is all about applying for your UK student visa. Receiving you visa is an exciting step toward the beginning of your Castle adventures.

Do you need a visa?

Not all students will need a visa, but most will. It depends on things like your citizenship and length of study. There is a handy online tool for checking to see if you need a visa to study in the UK. It can be found at www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.

A quick point to remember if you plan to use the online visa tool; first year students will be studying for a period of 8 months in the UK even though you do have a break in December.

If you don’t need a visa then you can check this off your list and start packing.

If you do need a visa then please read on and we will provide you with some helpful guidance. We will give as much help as we can, but it’s ultimately your responsibility to apply for the visa and ensure that you meet all of the relevant immigration laws throughout your time at the Castle.

So many names and acronyms

As you are navigating the visa instructions and immigration rules, you may come across the names and acronyms of several ministries, departments, and organizations. Here’s a quick guide to a few of the most common:

Up-to-date information is the key

Visa and immigration regulations can be changed by the UK Government without warning and may also be interpreted differently depending on your circumstances or the effects of other policies. You must ensure that you are following the most up-to-date rules and guidelines at the time of application.

The Tier 4 (General) Student Visa

Most students will be required to apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. The Bader International Study Centre is considered to be a qualified education provider and is a Highly Trusted Sponsor. You can apply for a Tier 4 visa up to 3 months before the start of your studies. This year, Orientation begins on September 4, so you can apply for your visa beginning on June 4.

Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

The Certificate of Acceptance for Studies, or CAS, will be provided to you by the BISC once you have been confirmed as a student.

This certificate outlines all of the details of your studies here at the BISC and will indicate that your tuition, room, board, and other fees have been paid in full prior to the start of your studies. Don’t worry if you have received permission from Queen’s to pay your tuition in instalments. Queen’s will transfer the whole amount to the BISC in the UK on your behalf at the appropriate time. This means that you owe nothing to the BISC during your time in the UK and can indicate on your application that all fees are paid. As a result, you won’t need to have backup funds in your account.

The BISC is considered a Highly Trusted Sponsor for Tier 4 visas and can prepare your CAS because of this status and because of the stamp of approval that we have received from the UK Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), which certifies the quality of all UK higher education institutions.

If you’re curious about the details of our Highly Trusted Sponsor status, you can check out www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-licensed-sponsors-students where we are listed under the title “International Study Centre T/A Bader International Study Centre.”

The QAA’s most recent report on the BISC can be found at www.qaa.ac.uk/InstitutionReports/Pages/Bader-International-Study-Centre.aspx.

English Language Requirements

Some students may need to prove that they are proficient in the English language. The requirements depend on your citizenship. The full list of countries whose citizens are not required to prove their English language proficiency is available at www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa/knowledge-of-english.

There have been recent changes made to the list of English language tests that are accepted by the UK Government. Some popular tests, such as the TOEFL exam, are no longer accepted. A complete list of accepted tests can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-applying-for-uk-visa-approved-english-language-tests.

Other Documents

Along with the above documents, you may be required to submit the following items. These can vary from person to person, so check all of the requirements carefully to ensure that you’re submitting all of the necessary documentation.

  • a current passport or other valid travel documentation with at least one blank page
  • passport sized-colour photographs with your name written on the reverse side
  • proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you’re under 18
  • original bursary or award letters
  • original education diplomas and high school transcript

Final Thoughts

Start the application process early so that you can take your time. Make sure that you answer all questions fully and include all necessary documentation. It’s not worth the risk to rush.

Some students may need also to apply for a visa to travel in the Schengen zone, which includes some countries in continental Europe. (Not the UK.) If you do require a visa for the Schengen zone, you are advised to apply well before your expected date of travel.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Castle with your shiny new visa in hand. Enjoy the summer sun and we will see you in September!

Mitch Piper
BISC Assistant Project Manager

What is BISC 100 / 101

In our previous blog post we gave you an overview of the new First Year Program. We recognize that many of you are making your final decisions and we want to make sure that you are doing so with as much information as possible. That’s why we are following up right away with some frequently asked questions about the two first year core courses: BISC 100 and BISC 101.

BISC 100: Thinking Locally and BISC 101: Acting Globally are brand new courses that are exclusively offered to first year students studying at the BISC. In preparing for the implementation of the First Year Program, and specifically BISC 100 and BISC 101, input was sought from faculty, students and Queen’s and BISC administrators. We are confident that these courses will be extremely beneficial to students and we’re excited to share them with you in September!

What topics will be covered in BISC 100 and BISC 101?

BISC 100: Thinking Locally will explore concepts of location, identity and boundaries that are at the heart of all academic inquiry across the Humanities and Social Sciences. It will do so by looking at case studies related to our British setting, like the idea of a unique British national identity, the debates on what constitutes English heritage, or the more recent controversies on immigration.

BISC 101: Acting Globally will take the concepts introduced in BISC 100 and expand them to a global scale. Students will engage in an analysis of the ways which people interact globally, focusing on basic patterns of international interaction, such as trade, imperialism, war and peacemaking. Current global issues will be a focal point for discussion and problem-solving activities.

What are the Field Studies for BISC 100 and BISC 101?

There will be two major field studies per term for BISC 100 and BISC 101. These will take place in cities such as London, Brighton, Liverpool and Paris. The field studies will be relevant to the course content and will include active and collaborative exercises such as developing and analyzing digital maps of cities to explore the ideas of identity and culture. These activities will challenge you to think critically about paradigms and the implications that these have on the way that we organize global affairs. Further examples of field studies can be found at http://www.queensu.ca/bisc/academics/programs/first-year.

Does BISC 100 and BISC 101 restrict my options?

No. Your first year of university is all about exploring options and we want to encourage that as much as possible. All Bachelor of Arts (Honours) plans are open to BISC students. The Admissions Team and Academic Advisors are on hand both before and during your time at the BISC to provide their expertise about course selection and requirements.

Students will select four disciplinary courses per term from a range of first year offerings. In addition, departments such as History, Sociology and Drama accept BISC 100 and BISC 101 as full entry into their degree plans, while Geography and Film and Media Studies accept BISC 100 when combined with a relevant term-length course offered in the Winter term as entry into their plans. This means that, combined with your disciplinary classes, students will have access to up to seven options for plans (majors, medials and minors). This is two more options than first year students who study on the Kingston campus.

The interdisciplinary elements of the First Year Program have been skilfully combined with the traditional disciplinary elements of first year offerings at the BISC. Both elements are central to a strong undergraduate education and to the BISC First Year Program.

Will class sizes be larger?

Each student will be assigned to a core weekly seminar group of 15 students for BISC 100 and BISC 101 that will be led by a BISC faculty member. The small class sizes will allow you to develop positive and productive working relationships with faculty and your peers. These relationships will be further enhanced by opportunities to work in other small groups or one-on-one with faculty members. In addition to your weekly seminar group of 15 students, some skills seminars and lectures will be delivered in sections of up to 30 students and, where advantageous, some specialty lectures will be delivered in a larger lecture group.

Small class sizes are a defining feature of all BISC offerings and is something that we will not compromise.

What does “co-taught” mean?

Each faculty member on BISC 100 and BISC 101 teaching team will be assigned to core seminar groups of 15 students. This will be the key arena where you will engage in an in-depth exploration of the course content. In addition, each member of the teaching team will be responsible for delivering lectures and skills seminars that relate to their area of expertise.

Mitch Piper
BISC Assistant Project Manager

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Why spend your first year at the BISC

*We know that many of our students are making a big decision this week and we would like to give them some additional information about our program! So this week, we are doing an early blog post! The fun doesn’t stop there however. We will be doing another blog post tomorrow about some new and exciting things at the BISC. Happy reading!

Spending your first year of university at a castle in England is a once in a lifetime opportunity—one that will surely warrant many posts on Instagram with shots from the battlements and peacocks wandering through the gardens. The building and estate speak for themselves, and you should be excited to call them home; however, there is so much more that will make your year at the BISC not only memorable, but also transformative.

How does the First Year Program work?

The First Year Program has two complementary branches: the academic and the co-curricular. Here’s how the mechanics of the program fit together:

Academic

  • All students will enrol in five classes per term. The Fall term runs from September until mid-December, while the Winter term runs from January until mid-April. Some courses will span both terms, while others will only be one term in length. All of your courses at the BISC will integrate experiential learning components including an average of two field studies per course, per term.
  • All first year students will enrol in BISC 100: Thinking Locally in the Fall term and BISC 101: Acting Globally in the Winter term. These courses will weave a common thread through your learning as you analyze how people organize the affairs of society at both the micro and macro level. For more information on these courses, check out http://www.queensu.ca/bisc/academics/programs/first-year.
  • In addition to BISC 100 and BISC 101 you will select four disciplinary courses per term from a wide-range of options that can be found at http://www.queensu.ca/bisc/academics/programs/first-year. All Bachelor of Arts (Honours) plans (majors, medials, and minors) are available to BISC students. Admissions Representatives and Academic Advisors will be on hand both before your first year begins and while you are studying at the BISC to help guide you through the process of course selection.

Co-curricular

  • Students will be sent a co-curricular prospectus in August. This will outline the array of co-curricular activities that are available at the BISC. It will also explain how you can start your own activity, society, publication, or sports club to match your own interests. This prospectus is the launch pad for your involvement in the BISC community. It is meant to provide a stable starting place from which you can shape your own experience.
  • Some of the co-curricular programs are connected with larger organizations from the Kingston campus. Involvement at the BISC can be an excellent way to create connections in Kingston that will last throughout your time at Queen’s and beyond.

Preparing you for your future.

The First Year Program builds on the strength of Queen’s University’s academic standards and tradition of student initiative. Together with the Castle’s unique setting and academic environment, the Program is a university experience that will set you apart from your peers and propel you toward success.

The size of the Castle community creates a learning environment that is unprecedented among undergraduate institutions. You will find that all of your classes are taught by faculty who are active researchers and eager to see you be successful. We deem interaction between faculty and students to be a crucial element of our high-calibre offerings, and cap all classes at 30 students.

Your learning will extend beyond the classroom walls through well-developed experiential learning opportunities. These include field studies (average of two per class, per term) to important sites in London, the UK and beyond; as well as guest speakers, and skills seminars. Check out http://www.queensu.ca/bisc/academics/programs/first-year for examples of past field studies and other experiential learning opportunities.

In addition, we recognize that going to university is more than just time spent in lectures. We want to give you every opportunity to mould your own experience. We encourage the creation of a vibrant community through our co-curricular framework and will also recognize the experience that you have gained outside of the classroom on your own co-curricular record.

We believe that your undergraduate education should give you knowledge and skills that are applicable in both further education and your chosen career. Our interdisciplinary courses that are centred on practical case studies and the emphasis on experiential and co-curricular learning demonstrate our commitment to preparing you to take on a leadership role in a complex world.

We’re excited to welcome you in September!

If you have been accepted to the BISC First Year Program, we recognize your potential to do great things and know that your experience at the Castle will only serve to increase that potential. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Admissions Team if you have any questions. They can be reached at castle@queensu.ca. Keep up to date by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Mitch Piper
BISC Assistant Project Manager

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BISC Next Steps

This can be a busy time for many of our students who have received acceptances to programs at Queen’s. They are researching, asking questions, taking tours, looking at videos and much more in order to determine what program would be the right fit for them.

We are here to help with your decision and would love to answer any questions about the First Year Program at the BISC that you may have. You can reach us by phone, email or by coming in person. If you would prefer more face to face interaction but you are not able to come to our Kingston Campus, we would be happy to meet with you via Skype! Simply email us at castle@queensu.ca

One of the biggest questions that we are receiving is what comes next once our students have accepted this offer. So we have compiled a fantastic list that will help answer that question and provide you with a ton of information.

Click on this link to access our PDF document
“Next Steps for the First Year Program at the BISC”

We hope that this document helps and prepares you for the summer! We are very excited to meet our incoming class and for our student to head to the UK in September!

Always happy to talk,
Radissen Ramoutar
BISC Admission Representative

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Take a look at the BISC

“Queen’s University has an international campus in the UK! It is in a 15th century castle? What does it look like?”

Well now you can find out. Take a look at the campus at the BISC in our latest video. You can get an idea of where the major things on campus are located. For more information about the Bader International Study Centre, check out our website here – http://www.queensu.ca/bisc/

On a plane flying around the Castle,
Radissen Ramoutar
BISC Admission Representative

Every Castle has a story…

A 15th century castle must have a ton of stories. Herstmonceux Castle existed long before we used it as our international campus and there are many interesting tales to tell. So we have complied a list of interesting facts about the Castle for you to find out a bit more -

  • It was originally owned by the Fiennes family (Of which Ralph Fiennes who plays He Who Must Not Be Named in the Harry Potter films, is a relative.)
  • From 1777 to the early 20th century, the Castle was dismantled and became a ruin.
  • The Southern Coasts of England were very popular for Smugglers and they used the Castle as a smuggler’s den.
  • To keep locals from discovering their smuggler’s den, it is rumored that they created the myth of “The Headless Drummer” to scare them away.
  • In the early 20th century, the Castle ruin was a popular tourist destination in England and it was restored in 1933.
  • In 1992, Dr Alfred Bader was on a train and read a newspaper article advertising the Castle for sale. He and his wife Dr. Isabelle Bader bought the Castle and donated it to his Alma Mater, Queen’s University who turned it into their International Study Centre.
  • In 2009, Queen’s renamed it the Bader International Study Centre in their honour.

You know, the Castle did not always look like this -

F-2Fi_sFSsh6pYJy80u8Ke13FiU5skqYeUTSIUngDOg,UJmChMBV9VOA49Rhh2jWy5j5EonYakeW4fyxkjKS8TwAfter it was abandoned and used as a smugglers den, it became quite the ruin -

Ruin

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Now no Castle would be complete without its own ghosts and Herstmonceux Castle is rumored to have a few ;) Over the years, there have been stories and rumors of The White Lady, The Swimmer, and the Lady in Grey lurking around the estate. The most popular Castle myth would have to be The Headless Drummer.

It is said that a nine foot tall ghost walks the corridors beating on his drum. The story goes that he may be Gregory Fiennes, the 10th Lord Dacre, who would constantly beat his drum to drive would-be suitors from his much younger wife. Eventually, she locked him in a small room and left him to die in 1575. You can still hear the ghostly beating of his drum around the corridors…at least that is what they say…

Some students make a point to go looking for The Headless Drummer  and most of the time, it just leads them our Castle Pub which is also called “The Headless Drummer.”

BTglkMPCYAANXaiIf you find that we have wet your appetite, we would recommend checking out our our website for more information about the interesting history of the Castle -

You know, back in my day…
Radissen Ramoutar
BISC Admission Representative

Know it all – the 2014-2015 BISC Student Handbook is here!

We get a lot of questions from our applicants and future students at this time of year. Did you know that we have a brilliant resource to help you with any of your questions? Well we do! Our BISC Student Handbook is a wonderful resource for parents and students alike and the best news is that we just updated it for our 2014-2015 incoming class!

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The 2014-2015 BISC Student Handbook covers a number of topics:

  • Sessional dates
  • Registering for your courses
  • Health insurance information
  • What documents you need to travel to the UK
  • What to pack
  • How to plan your travel
  • Fee payment schedules
  • Additional expenses while studying at the BISC
  • Friendly faces at the Castle (people who are there to help YOU!)
  • Field studies and optional activities
  • Residence and meal plan
  • Location and transportation
  • Useful apps while travelling
  • A pre-departure checklist
  • And so much more!

Our biggest piece of advice to incoming students is to read The BISC Student Handbook.

The BISC Admission team is also here to help! If, for any reason, you still have unanswered questions then please get in touch. Whether it is via email (castle@queensu.ca), Facebook, or Twitter (@_TheCastle), we are more than happy to help you prepare for your time at the Castle. Also don’t forget to watch our videos on our YouTube page BISCtv!

We hope that these resources help you make a smooth transition to university and the Castle!

Reading through the Handbook for the 648th time,
BISC Admissions

BISC Virtual Open House – March 15th, 2014

Video

Every year, Queen’s University has a Open House during March Break. It gives our prospective students a chance to come and see our Kingston Campus and feel what it is like to be a student there.

This year, we decided to get our international campus involved and we hosted a Virtual Open House for all of the visitors to our Kingston Campus. Prospective students and their families came to our presentation where we had four staff members from the Castle showing off four specific locations: the Dining Hall, the Castle Courtyard, one of our largest Classrooms and a Residence Room.

We were able to record the tour and you can view it here. Students and parents had the opportunity to ask questions live and find out more about the spaces and the campus. If you have any additional questions or you would like to learn more, please email us at castle@queensu.ca and we will be happy to tell you more.

We hope you enjoy this glimpse at the Castle and we have some very exciting things coming soon!

Get excited,
Radissen Ramoutar
BISC Admission Representative

BISC First Year Hangout – March 2014 (Our final Hangout)

Hello Everyone,

Happy first day of Spring (despite the weather not feeling like it)! We have a real treat for you today and that is our BISC First Year Hangout for March 2014.

This will be our last Hangout for the 2013 / 2014 year and we have had an absolute blast making them for you. On behalf of Asheika, Sam, Blake and Johanna, I would like to thank everyone who watched our hangouts (live or afterwards), asked questions, and gave feedback. We really appreciate you all taking such an interest in these Hangouts and we hope they are helpful to you!

You can view all of our First Year Hangouts from August 2013 all the way up until March 2014 on our YouTube Channel, BISCtv. If you have any questions about our Hangouts or about the BISC in general, please feel free to let us know by emailing us at castle@queensu.ca

We hope you enjoyed Hanging Out with us,
Radissen Ramoutar
BISC Admission Representative

March Break Open House (BISC Style)

So you can’t make it to the Castle in the UK to visit the campus? We are not sure why since there are only several thousand miles and an entire ocean in your way. We are just kidding. We know that the distance makes it tough to visit the BISC for many of our students in North America. We do, however, have a fantastic campus in Kingston, Ontario, Canada that is a bit nearer for those students who live in Canada and the U.S. It may not be a Castle but it is still a beautiful campus.

Coincidentally ;) that campus in Kingston, ON is also having their March Break Open House this Saturday (March 15th 2014). March Break Open House is your chance to come onto campus for a day and see what it is like to study at Queen’s. You will be able to take a tour of the campus, meet with professors and students, visit faculties and departments and much more.

With all the excitement at our Kingston Campus, we decided to throw our own March Break Open House for the BISC. Since we are unfortunately not able to pick everyone up from our Kingston campus and fly them to the BISC (since that would take too long), we decided to do the next best thing – a Virtual Tour.

Students (family and friends) that attend March Break Open House at our Kingston campus will be able to attend a BISC presentation where we will be doing a Virtual Tour of the BISC. We will have four locations (*subject to availability) for you to see:

  • The Castle Exterior
  • Our Residence (Bader Hall)
  • The Dining Hall
  • A typical BISC Classroom

We will also have faculty and staff who will be joining us live from the Castle to answer questions and tell you more about the campus and our program. These presentations will be occurring at 11am, 12pm and 1pm in the Welcome Centre of Gordon Hall at our Kingston campus. If you would like more information or would like to register for March Break Open House, you can do so here.

Can’t make it? Well we have you covered. We will be recording the Virtual Tour and uploading it to our YouTube Channel “BISCtv” so you can view it from home. We also have a ton of other videos on “BISCtv” that give you an inside look at what the BISC is all about. You can view those right now if you would like to learn more.

We can’t wait to see many of you this weekend and stay tuned next week for our BISC First Year Hangout for March 2014.

Renaming it to March BISC Open House,
Radissen Ramoutar
BISC Admission Representative

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