Stanford has announced plans to indefinitely suspend its overseas studies program in Beijing at the end of the 2016-17 academic year – due to low enrollment – and to find a new home in China for the undergraduate program.

Aerial view of Capetown South Africa

The Bing Overseas Studies Program is postponing its spring quarter program in Cape Town, South Africa, while the university conducts an international search for a new director. (Image credit: Getty Images)

The final Stanford in Beijing Program will be offered spring quarter of 2017.

Ramón Saldívar, director of the Bing Overseas Studies Program, said he made the decision in consultation with university leadership and faculty, including Provost John Etchemendy, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Harry J. Elam Jr. and the faculty advisory committees that oversee BOSP.

“The consultation was wide, extended and deep,” Saldívar said.

Stanford has also announced plans to postpone its spring 2017 program in Cape Town, South Africa, while the university conducts an international search for a new director.

Launching a new program in China

Saldívar said Stanford hopes to launch a new program in China in 2018-19.

He said creating a new overseas studies program is a complex process that could include establishing an academic partnership with either a Chinese university or an existing U.S. program, selecting local faculty to teach courses, creating a curriculum that meets Stanford’s high academic standards and meets the needs of Stanford students, establishing appropriate staffing resources, arranging for student housing and support services, and seeking Stanford faculty members who might be willing to serve as faculty-in-residence.

The Beijing program, which Stanford established in 2004, offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study for a quarter at the prestigious Peking University.

Saldívar said student interest in the program, which was designed for 20 to 30 students, was high during its early years. However, enrollment declined over the years, especially during the last five to six years, to the point where last spring only eight students participated in the program – making the cost per student prohibitively high.

He said BOSP tried to make the program accessible to a wider range of students by eliminating the Mandarin language prerequisite, but that did not improve enrollment.

Saldívar emphasized that the decision to suspend the undergraduate program will not affect the Stanford Center at Peking University, which is the headquarters for faculty and students engaged in research, teaching, training and outreach activities in China.

While planning for a new quarter-length program in China, BOSP hopes to offer special courses of study in Beijing, Shanghai or elsewhere in China through its summer Overseas Seminars. BOSP invites faculty to submit proposals for one of these intensive, three-week seminars in China. Applications for these proposed seminars are currently being accepted and are due no later than Wednesday, Feb. 15. Further information can be found on the BOSP website.

Stanford in Cape Town

Stanford has postponed its spring quarter overseas studies program in Cape Town while the university conducts an international search for a new director.

The current director, whom Saldívar described as “superb,” is moving back to her native Ireland, but has agreed to stay through February of the winter 2017 quarter.

Saldívar said it will take several months to hire and train a new director for the Cape Town program.

“Even if we were to hire a new director today, that person would probably not be ready to take over the Cape Town program for the spring quarter, because we would need to negotiate and finalize the contract, and bring the person to campus for orientation and training,” he said. “That’s why we had to postpone the spring quarter program.”

Stanford offers undergraduates the opportunity to spend a quarter studying in eight other locations around the world: Australia, Berlin, Florence, Kyoto, Madrid, Oxford, Paris and Santiago.