Campus, Coronavirus, News

Students petition for partial refund of CGS Boston-London program

The outside of Boston University’s College of General Studies. CGS students created a petition on May 4 to lower the Boston-London program’s tuition after it was moved online for the summer due to COVID-19. LAURYN ALLEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

This year’s spring-admit freshmen spent only 49 days on campus, and they will now also forgo a summer in London — a Boston University College of General Studies tradition — while paying full sticker price.

An online petition formed May 4 in response, which students plan to send to President Robert Brown in hopes of procuring a partial refund.

CGS Summer-London program students begin their freshman year in January and take summer classes in London following that Spring semester.

The petition, which currently has over 1,400 virtual signatures, asks that the University lower the current cost of $27,360 for 14 credits over six weeks of remote summer courses.

This price of CGS’s London classes amounts to $1,954 per credit as opposed to $720 per credit for normal summer courses.

Administrative authorities within CGS declined to comment on the matter.

Albert Kelleher, creator of the petition and current CGS freshman, said the tuition bill as it stands would only be fair if it provided the abroad experience.

“If we were going to London, the cost would’ve been justified. We were getting an amazing experience,” Kelleher said. “Essentially what we’re doing through CGS this summer will be glorified [BU] Hub credits.”

Kelleher said he thinks the administration has communicated poorly with students concerned about the issue.

“Up until this point, they’ve been very defensive and they’ve been very inflexible,” Kelleher said. “They’ve been anything but accommodating and supportive of students.”

CGS freshman Isabel Zarrow said CGS administration hosted an informational town hall for the Class of 2023 that did little to mitigate concerns.

“I got really frustrated because they didn’t answer any of the tough questions,” Zarrow said. “They really stuck to their talking points and didn’t give straight answers.”

Zarrow added that she feels the University is “locking [students] in” by forcing them to take and pay for these summer courses because BU Hub credits cannot be received at any other college.

The CGS administration is working to replace this year’s summer London experience with an optional one-week trip in May 2021 for an additional $800, according to an email from CGS Dean Natalie McKnight.

Julianna Hellerman, a freshman in CGS, said she is touched by the thought but not enthused.

“I think it is a nice consolation prize,” Hellerman said. “But I don’t think you can make the argument that it’s the same thing.”

She said she understands the school must collect tuition as part of necessary revenue during difficult economic times, but does not believe she and her peers should have to carry the burden.

“I don’t really think that that should fall in the hands of students,” Hellerman said, “especially those who haven’t really had a real college experience, which I think is what BU really markets during the application process.”

CGS sophomore Didi Hoyt said that London is a vital part of what makes up the CGS experience.

“Going to London was definitely one of my biggest factors in choosing BU and going ahead with the CGS program,” Hoyt said. “There are a lot of issues within CGS, there’s a lot of things that people don’t like about it, but London really just makes up for it.”

Hoyt added that she doesn’t think a one-week trip can compare to what she and other previous CGS freshmen had received.

“One week really just wouldn’t cut it,” Hoyt said. “The six weeks went by really quickly, but it was still six weeks.”

Katie Kgh Hansen, a senior in COM and former CGS student, said the experience of London cannot be replicated with online classes. For her, learning while abroad was a “life-altering” experience.

“It made me more confident to go out and explore the world and do what I wanted to do. It kind of gave me that first taste of true freedom,” Hansen said. “There’s no way they can recreate that online, and I feel so bad for those kids because of it.”


  1. A Prior CGS London Student

    You guys are so lucky that you don’t have to go to London for CGS. Worst six weeks of my life. Disorganized, rude staff, unaccommodating. Everyone was constantly drunk, students were getting mugged and assaulted left and right. The field trips were a mess. Be grateful you don’t have to go through it.