By Shelley Xu
Application numbers for the first round of the spring Bing Overseas Study Program (BOSP) this year were the highest in the past five years, increasing to 391 applicants from last year’s 289.
The Berlin program received the most applications, 96, almost doubling last year’s 54. Only the Beijing program saw a decrease from last year’s 29 to 15.
The Madrid program, which has historically seen high application numbers, instituted a new language requirement this year, raising the Spanish language proficiency requirement from one year to two years of study or equal skill. The change aimed to reduce the number of applications, said Santiago Tejerina-Canal, director of the Madrid program.
“For me it was hard to say no to so many incredible students,” Tejerina-Canal said.
This spring the Madrid applications matched those from last year, 33, but Director of BOSP Ramon Saldivar and Tejerina-Canal said that numbers were down across all three quarters.
In response to the overall Madrid performance this year, Tejerina-Canal said the language requirement would go back down to encourage as many students as possible to participate in the program.
“We were realizing that those students who came to Madrid with a high level of language proficiency just seemed to get a lot more out of it,” Saldivar said. “I’m not sorry that we made the change.”
Along with the rise in spring applications, BOSP saw another shift this year with an increase in applications to the fall Moscow program.
According to Saldivar, Moscow applications have been historically low, fluctuating year to year from the mid-teens to mid-twenties. There were 18 applications this year.
Sam Rebo ’15, who plans to study abroad in Moscow next year, said that low numbers have to do with the uniqueness of the program’s location.
“I think people like to go to Paris, Oxford, Berlin because…it’s more what we’re used to, it’s Western Europe and it’s not far removed from America,” Rebo said. “Eastern Europe is a completely different place.”
The Moscow program has employed a variety of measures to boost enrollment. For example, there is no language requirement; instead, students go through a three-week intensive Russian language course.
“I’m amazed that it works,” said Gabriella Safran, professor of Slavic studies. “I’ve been persuaded because I’ve seen a lot of students go through the program and I’ve seen the tremendous work that the whole staff in Moscow does.”
The Moscow program is also looking into allowing non-Stanford students to enroll in the program to “avoid empty classes and make the program more interesting,” Alexander Abashkin, director of the Moscow program, wrote in an email to The Daily.
“BOSP leadership and the new director of BOSP…Ramon Saldivar are supportive of this idea, and we hope to get it implemented some time soon,” he said.
There are also other plans for BOSP in the works, including more overseas seminar locations and, potentially, additional permanent campuses, such as another campus in the Americas.
“You never get everything that you want, but I think that some of them are very likely,” Saldivar said.
Programs in Kyoto, Florence, Beijing, Oxford, Madrid and Santiago are currently accepting second-round applications for spring.