International Students’ Centre forced to evacuate its campus headquarters

The International Students’ Centre (ISC) has been asked to leave their current location by the University of Edinburgh by the end of this academic year.

In December 2016, University administration informed the ISC that they would no longer have access to their lounge space in 22b Buccleuch Place, where the ISC has been located for over 20 years.

As part of ongoing reconstruction on the street, the building is due to be renovated and repurposed for the new academic year.

Lindsey Nkem, a third-year sociology and psychology student and ISC Publicity Secretary explains the group’s need for the space to The Student, stating: “We need the lounge in order to keep running; we are volunteer based and the community that we create in order to engage with volunteers is centred in the physical space that we have.”

The ISC is a student-run organisation that, according to their 2017 Report, aims to “support and enhance the overall experiences of international students that come to the University of Edinburgh.”

There are three main strings to the ISC’s bow: the lounge, events and trips. The ISC lounge is open every weekday afternoon, and offers a place for international students to meet one another, ask questions, seek support, or is just somewhere to have lunch.

According to the committee, the lounge is crucial to the community that the ISC strives to create. “It’s more than a physical space, it’s the bond we all share,” says Stephanie Bouwhuis, ISC Vice President and fourth-year International Relations student.

The University of Edinburgh have not offered the ISC another space to replace their current lounge.

As the group is not affiliated with the Edinburgh University Students’ Association, the group’s future is in jeopardy.

Nkem believes that the movement of the ISC lounge is indicative of wider issues within the University.

She criticised the University’s present support systems, saying: “The support systems at this university could be better and that has been argued on so many different grounds before, with regards to mental health, diversity and so on.”

The ISC brought forward a motion at a Student Council meeting on 2 March to provide context and lobby support for the ISC. As the ISC are not an Edinburgh University Students’ Association affiliated society, they can offer them limited assistance.

But a speaker from the ISC appealed for convenors and voters to help demonstrate to the University that the ISC needs this space.

Liga Skarda, fifth-year chemistry student and ISC President, explained their position to The Student following the Student Council meeting, stating: “Us asking [Edinburgh University Students’ Association] for help was a risk as there’s only so much they can do, but we are looking at this point for people to support us and help us lobby the university, so hopefully it will help our situation.”

The ISC has a 95 per cent student satisfaction rate and was rated as one of the top 10 student services in the 2015/6 academic year by the International Student Barometer, legitimising their call for support from the University.

Speaking on the future of ISC, Nkem says: “It just doesn’t look like it will be feasible to continue running the ISC without this space.”

Image: International Students’ Centre

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