Universiteit Leiden

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Alle coronavirus updates released in May 2020.

Update 28 May: limited reopening of buildings, no exchange programmes first semester

Limited, safe and responsible reopening of building
The University is preparing for a limited reopening of its buildings. In this update, we provide information on when this will be possible and how we are ensuring that this is done in the safest way possible. For the sake of clarity: with just a few exceptions, working and studying from home will remain the norm, and our teaching will remain online until the end of this academic year (end of August 2020). 

Gradual easing of lockdown
We understand that there are many questions about reopening our buildings. You may have heard about new stickers, one-way routes and protective screens in the buildings. This is all in preparation for their gradual reopening. 

The government is easing the measures, while keeping a close eye on public health, the healthcare system and the economy. The country, and therefore higher education too, has to begin a cautious and intelligent exit from lockdown. This has to be done in a particular sequence and involves prioritising, which also applies to universities. The necessity to keep the pressure on public transport and public places as low as possible is a major consideration. Each time the government announces new measures in a press conference, these have to be translated to our sector, and agreements have to be reached between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) about how these measures will be implemented at the universities. 

Priority: teaching and research
We are also prioritising in gradual steps at Leiden University. Our teaching and research take priority, so working from home will remain the norm for most staff members. However, limited research, small-scale teaching (such as practicals) and exams will soon be possible.  

Working from home as the norm
Working from home will continue to be the norm. Anyone who can work from home should carry on doing so. We expect this to continue until 1 September. Members of staff who cannot work from home because their work is location specific or because of other circumstances may be granted access to their workspace if they have permission from their manager. Modifications to our buildings including instructions, protective screens and extra hygiene measures will ensure that it is safe to work there. The norm in all buildings will be 1.5m social distancing. Read the announcement about safety at work on the staff members website and follow the instructions carefully. 

8 June: limited number of study areas open
From 8 June, a limited number of students will be able to use the study places at the libraries and at some faculty locations. From 8 June, an occupancy of 10% will be possible, from 15 June 15% and from 22 June 20%. Do be aware therefore that there will be very few study places and that these may fill up quickly. Students can reserve a timeslot (3-4 hours) through the shared desk reservation system to ensure that arrival and departure times are staggered and social distancing can be observed. We will post information on how to reserve a timeslot on the student website at the beginning of June. Check the website regularly for updates. The study places will be cleaned frequently. Modifications have also been made to all buildings with study places, including instructions, protective screens and extra hygiene measures to ensure that it is safe to work there is safe. The norm in all buildings will be 1.5m social distancing. Read the announcement about this on the student site and follow the instructions carefully. 

From 15 June: limited start of teaching (practicals) and exams
From 15 June, on-campus teaching and exams will be permitted on a very limited scale. The teaching will be in fixed timeslots for a maximum of 20% of the regular student capacity.

For the present, on-campus teaching and exams are only possible for:
1.    supervision of final-year students
2.    practicals
3.    supervision of vulnerable students
4.    exams that cannot be held online

Please note: students will be informed by their degree programme if their teaching or exams will be on campus. 

Preparation for the 2020-2021 academic year
Once the government gives us more leeway, we will be able to ease the measures further. The experiences of students and staff in the coming period of limited reopening will help us make the best possible start to the 2020-2021 academic year. In the first semester, our teaching will probably be hybrid: on campus if we can and also online. Intensive national discussions are currently being held about this. We will update you as soon as we know more.  

No exchange programmes first semester
Educational exchange programmes within and outside Europe will not go ahead in the first semester of the academic year 2020-2021. This applies to both Leiden students who want to study abroad (outbound students) and international exchange students who want to study here (incoming students). For more information, read the announcement.

Update 25 May: PhD defenses from 1 June

From 1 June, PhD defenses can again be held on campus with a limited number of people (a maximum of 20) physically in attendance, and a live stream for others who are interested. All defences will be held in the Klein Auditorium room at the Academy Building. Read all details in the protocol

Update 20 May: Working towards the new normal in stages

The restrictive measures imposed by the government to contain the coronavirus are slowly being relaxed. What does this mean for Leiden University, for our students and for our staff? 

In summary, what stays the same:

  • Work as much as possible from home.  Staff who have major problems with working from home can contact their manager.
  • Online teaching remains the principle. Students who have major problems with studying online can contact Student Support Services: 071-527 1132 or studentsupport@leidenuniv.nl 
  • Research: Laboratories are open to a limited extent, within the applicable rules. Discuss the possibilities with your manager.  
  • The University Library is open for lending books and – by appointment – for students who need to print documents. You can find information on the practicalities here.

What applies from 1 June:

From I June, PhD defenses can again be held on campus with a limited number of people (a maximum of 20) physically in attendance, and a live stream for others who are interested. 

What applies from 15 June:

Teaching that is not possible or is difficult online will be possible, to a limited extent, in University buildings. We are giving priority to students who are close to graduating, practicals, exams and mentoring vulnerable students. When any part of the teaching can be resumed on campus, students will be informed about this by their study programme. Read all details in the protocol

What we are now working on, ready for when a further relaxation of the measures is possible: 

  • How we are going to organise the ‘1.5-metre university’, including in terms of access to our buildings;
  • Expanding the number of study places available for our students;
  • Hybrid teaching: on campus where we can, online because we can.

We have set out in more detail how we want to organise the coming months and the next academic year, and the different scenarios we are working on. Read more about this here: ‘Working towards the new normal in stages’

Update 15 May

Start your master’s even with a study delay
Do you want to start a master’s at Leiden University in September, but won’t be able to complete your bachelor’s before the end of this academic year? The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is allowing universities to admit students to a master’s programme this year who haven’t yet completed their bachelor’s, on conditions that the universities can set themselves. We have worked out two possible options for our students. Some master’s programmes also offer a second intake moment. Different master’s programmes offer different options. Read here how you can progress to your chosen master’s programme.

USC Leiden resumes outdoor sports in phases
As of 13 May, the University Sports Center Leiden (USC) is gradually resuming outdoor sports.  Advance reservation is required. Only members can make reservations and all reservations will be checked by USC staff. Classes will follow the official NOC*NSF-sports protocol. More information on reservations and scheduled classes

A message to our prospective students from Rector Carel Stolker
These are uncertain times, but there’s one thing we know for certain: when you study at Leiden University, you can be sure the education you receive will be of the highest quality. Our Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker has a video message for all prospective students, watch it here

Update 7 May: new government measures, privacy and online proctoring, printers at Wijnhaven

New government measures & implications
The Dutch government announced new measures yesterday. There are no changes for higher education but the government did announce that it is investigating whether the measures for higher education can be eased.

This means that the measures that we have already taken will remain in force until further notice:

Everyone is expected to work from home where possible. The government has not provided a date for when home working will end, but we are taking into account that this could still take a few more months.

Our buildings remain closed to students, except for the limited services provided by the University Library.

For crucial work that has to be done on-site, the following hygiene measures apply:

  • Keep 1.5 metres apart from others
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Stay at home if you are experiencing symptoms
  • The government does not deem face masks to be necessary if it is possible to keep 1.5 metres apart from others.

Privacy and online proctoring
Now exams are being held online, the invigilation must also be digital. This obviously raises questions about privacy, and in particular the use of certain invigilation software (e.g. ProtorExam). The University has chosen to limit the use of this software to the minimum by using alternative programs or forms of assessment where possible. If proctor software is necessary, clear agreements have been made on data collection, who has access to the data and for how long this is kept. Read more about these agreements. It is understandable that some students are concerned about these new assessment methods. Please be aware, however, that digital proctoring is a way to stay as close as possible to a normal exam situation where you are monitored by invigilators.

Printers now accessible at Wijnhaven too
Students can now print documents in the Wijnhaven Library (The Hague) too. You will need to book in advance; the time slots are up to 20 minutes, during which time you will have sole use of the printer.

Upate 6 May: Academic year 20/21: information for current and prospective students, VSNU adopts common line

Academic Year 20/21: how we are preparing
In an email this morning, Vice-Rector Hester Bijl informed all students about next academic year. Exactly what form the education will take is something we can’t say for sure yet. What we are able to do depends on the possibilities given to us by the Dutch government and the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). This means that we are preparing to provide our study programmes from September 2020 until the end of January 2021 largely online, and where possible in our University buildings. We are taking all the likely scenarios into account, and hope that we will be able to meet one another on campus in the very near future. For each programme, we are looking at which components can be followed in a physical context, such as practicals, small work groups and tutoring. Read the full announcement by Hester Bijl.

Web dossier for new students 
Are you or is someone you know planning to come to our university next academic year? You probably have lots of questions. Our new web dossier for new students (bachelor’s and master’s) contains all the relevant information about admissions, teaching (on-campus and online) and introduction days in the new academic year. 

Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) common line
The Dutch universities are working together on likely scenarios for the new academic year. Their take is: on campus where possible and otherwise online. Read more in this announcement by the VSNU (at present only in Dutch).

New measures?
The government is holding a press conference this evening and it is expected that some measures may be eased. What this means for universities in general and Leiden in particular will be explored in further details over the coming days.

Update 1 May

Limited access to Reading Room Special Collections
From Wednesday 6 May onwards, the Leiden University Library (UB) Reading Room Special Collections will provide limited access to Leiden University researchers. While adhering to corona-related measures, researchers will again be able to use the Leiden Collections. You can reserve a workspace for a specific date and time slot. The Reading Room Special Collections will not be open to other users. More information on how to apply for a workspace.


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