Kasteel Well program cancelled for spring semester due to ongoing travel restrictions


The Berkeley Beacon Archives

Emerson’s Kasteel Well campus in Well, Netherlands.

By Andrew Brinker, Senior Investigative Reporter

The Kasteel Well study abroad program has been cancelled for the spring semester due to ongoing European Union travel restrictions on U.S. citizens.

The cancellation comes after college officials were unable to secure special permission from the Dutch government to resume the program in the spring, an email sent Friday afternoon to students enrolled in the program for the spring said. The E.U. currently prohibits nonessential U.S. citizens from entering the union as a measure of safety against the coronavirus (students are exempt from these restrictions, but the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service must approve student entry into the Netherlands). 

“It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you that we have been unable to secure permission from the Dutch Government to allow our U.S. citizens entry into the Netherlands with a student visa,” the email reads. “And unfortunately, the EU travel ban for American Citizens is still in effect, with no sign of being revised or withdrawn any time soon. Therefore, we have no choice but to cancel the traditional Spring 2021 Kasteel Well semester.”

The cancellation marks the third semester in a row the popular travel option will be cancelled or curtailed in some form.

Students studying in the Netherlands were abruptly brought back to the U.S. in March 2019 as the spread of COVID-19 accelerated in Europe. Then, in early August, college officials announced the cancellation of the program for fall 2020 after a month of negotiations between the college and the Dutch Departments of Immigration and Education. 

The Kasteel Well campus, located in Well, Netherlands and commonly referred to as the castle, may instead hold classes for international students who wish to study there instead of the U.S.

“Because the E.U. travel ban is only in effect for certain countries [including the United States], the college may use the castle as an alternate location for new international freshmen from China,” the email reads. “If you are an international student who can obtain a Schengen Visa for the Netherlands, you may still be able to attend the castle program. We will be announcing a list of courses shortly.”

Students who were already enrolled in the program now have just one week to formulate new plans for the spring and inform the college via an intent form by Oct. 23.

Those students can either defer their Kasteel Well enrollment until next academic year and attend courses on the Boston campus, attend Franklin University in Lugano, Switzerland, one of Emerson’s global partner institutions, or take a leave of absence.Students’ $300 enrollment deposit will be applied to paying for a future semester or program.

Jehan Ayesha, a second-year journalism student who planned to attend the program in the spring, said the news did not come as a shock.

“Obviously, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming,” she said.  “There have always been uncertainties in the air regardless of the cancellation today, but [now] there’s one less uncertainty I guess.”

College officials could not immediately be reached for comment.