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Studying: what will it be like in the near future for first year students?

It’s great that you’re planning to come and study with us. 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.

We are paying special attention to our international students. We want to give you a warm welcome as you start your studies at our University. You will be following your programme online and, where possible, on campus. We understand that you may not be able to travel to the Netherlands for the start of the academic year. That’s no problem: in that case, you can start your programme online.  

Our aim with all we are doing is to provide you with a complete and comprehensive academic training. Your reason for choosing Leiden University is more than just your particular study programme and the quality of our education. Discover the world at Leiden University.

Frequently asked questions

Second semester: weekly on-campus contact 

As a result of the the corona measures, we have limited capacity in our buildings for on-campus classes. This means that teaching will continue to be mostly online. However, we will try to ensure that you can come to the campus at least once a week.

Priority will be given to educational activities that are not possible online, such as practical sessions, or to activities for which collaboration and personal contact are important, such as tutorials and tutor meetings for first-year students.

The exact format will vary from programme to programme. You will hear more about your timetable direclty from your study programme. 

As long as this is possible

Of course, on-campus teaching can only continue if the coronavirus situation permits it. The health of our students and staff is and will remain our primary concern.

Almost everything that can be done face-to-face in the lecture rooms can be done online: listening, discussing, asking questions, making presentations and working in groups. Our lecturers have now gained a lot of experience in different teaching methods, and there are different ways that students can work interactively online.

As well as short knowledge clips or recorded videos on the course material that you can watch in your own time, you can also follow live online lectures. Interactive online tutorials are a further option, where you can work on course material with your teacher and fellow students, either in a plenary setting or with a few fellow students in break-out rooms. You can take part in discussions via chats or forums, or make a video or podcast as an assignment. And, of course, there are also Q&A sessions where you have every opportunity to ask questions.

Platforms and facilities

Teachers and students use various systems, such as Kaltura, Microsoft Teams and Brightspace, for online teaching and learning. Naturally, you will receive information from your programme department about which subjects are online and which will be given on campus, what the timetable will look like, on which online platforms you will follow your chosen subjects and how you can make use of the different online facilities.


On campus or online, we will ensure that all our teaching and assessment continues with the level of quality you expect from us - to enable you to get the most out of your studies. Our lecturers have extensive experience in online education and are backed up by professional support.

As a first-year bachelor’s student, you will be part of a tutor group of around 10 to 15 other first-year students. The group will be headed by a more senior student and a lecturer. Especially at the start of the programme, you will be in regular contact with this group to help you feel at home in your new study environment more quickly. You can talk to your lecturer and student tutor about any questions you may have; they will tell you all you want to know about the programme and the University, and will also organise fun activities for you and your fellow students.

As well as this, the study and student associations and other student organisations will arrange a wealth of online and in-person activities so you can get to know your fellow students. You will also have access to an extensive student support network, and you can find lots of useful tips on special platforms, such as the Healthy University and Studying Online.

For first-year master’s students we developed a form of coaching that focuses on activities related to job market preparation, research or familiarising yourself with the University libraries. As well as this, study and student associations and other student organisations will arrange a wealth of online and in-person activities so you can get to know your fellow students. You will also have access to an extensive student support network, and you can find lots of useful tips on special platforms, such as the Healthy University and Studying Online.

Your student time is about more than just studying. If you live in student accommodation in Leiden or The Hague, you will also meet new friends and fellow students, and it will be easier for you to use the University facilities as these open up; these include such things as the study places in the libraries and the sports facilities, as well as all that the city where you are living has to offer. We advise you to start looking for a room early; you can find some tips to help you on our website. If we are able to offer more lectures or other teaching activities on campus, it will also be easier for you to make the switch from online to on-campus lectures. 

We will offer programme components on campus where this is permitted. These could be small-scale teaching formats, such as practicals and work groups or meetings of your tutor group. In the most extreme case, the programme will have to be followed completely online.

If you are an international student and you are not yet allowed to travel to the Netherlands, you can start your study programme 100% online. As soon as the situation allows you to travel to the Netherlands, you can discuss with your programme department starting to follow on-campus lectures at a later date.

If you have a functional disability or health issues that mean you are unable or unwilling to travel to Leiden or The Hague, you can start your programme 100% online. As soon as the situation allows you to travel to the Netherlands, you can discuss with your programme department starting to follow on-campus lectures at a later date.

The introduction programmes will be made up of two parts: firstly, an interactive platform where you can get to know one another, the student associations and other student organisations online, and secondly, just as every year, students will take part in an on-location introduction programme, in groups. The main goal is and remains that you have the chance to get to know your study programme, the city, student life and one another. The introduction week should be an unforgettable start to your student years, and we want to make sure you have every opportunity to enjoy this experience – online and on campus!

The invitation to sign up will appear in your mailbox, so keep a close eye on your inbox! You’ll find more information on the website about which introduction programme is the right one for you.

Please find all answers to frequently asked questions in our FAQs start of your programme.

What’s it like to study at home?

Students have found their own ways to make studying at home as comfortable as possible and, now they can’t meet up in person, their own ways to keep in touch with other students. Students Sammie, Wouter and Manon share their experiences.

Sammie Hagemeijer

About study at home

Sammie Hagemeijer

‘I usually start studying at around 12.00 and study for around four hours. I find it harder to stay focused at home. To make sure I’m productive, I use a Pomodoro timer on my computer. This times 25 minutes when I “have” to study, followed by a five-minute break. And then another 25 minutes of study. After four 25-minute study blocks, the Pomodoro timer tells me I’ve earned a longer, 30-minute break. This study method works really well for me! ‘I still have a lot of contact with the other students via social media and breakout rooms in online workgroups. Now the workgroups are online, I think it’s even more important to participate actively, ask questions and engage in discussions with the other students and lecturers. This is my way of making the best of things. I’m pleased with how it’s going. ‘I’ve also recently moved to an active student house. That s one of the best things to happen to me at the moment! My housemates and I often have a laugh together.’

Wouter Woltering

About study at home

Wouter Woltering

‘When we first started studying at home, I realised I found it harder to concentrate: I was going through the motions without knowing what does and doesn’t work for me. I now try to give some structure to my days by sticking to fixed study times and not using my desk for anything else except studying. I do things like Netflix or scrolling through Instagram elsewhere. ‘I’ve also realised that variety keeps studying fun. I therefore try to have a quick chat with housemates in between studying or to go for a walk at lunchtime, so I’m more motivated when I return. I use apps like Forest to help me concentrate on my studies. Forest is an app where you can plant trees and help them grow, but you’re not allowed to look at your phone because then your trees will die. This makes me much less likely to reach for my phone, which means I can concentrate better. ‘Studying from home has taught me that it’s OK to slow down a bit. And your student life doesn’t have to come to a complete standstill. We’re all in the same boat, so in some respects it’s actually easier to make friends. Online drinks, film evenings via Netflix Party or a distanced walk with study mates mean you can still socialise and do fun things. My dramatic society has been holding lots of online games evenings since our shows were cancelled, so that we can still stay in touch with one another.’’

Manon Boot

About study at home

Manon Boot

‘I get up quite early, between 7.15 and 7.30. After breakfast, I always do something nice for myself: reading a book, checking the news, hula hooping, writing or making a list for the day. At lunchtime I try to walk for at least half an hour. I’m taking part in a walking competition with some friends in the Ommetje app. We encourage one another to get some fresh air every day. Talking of apps: I also use Toggl, a great app to track how much time I spend studying. If I see that I’ve spent nine hours studying one day, I know I can take it easier the next. ‘Much of the contact with other students is online. This means you’re less likely to have one-on-one conversations with other students, like you do in an in-person workgroup when you enter or leave the room, for example. But after an online group assignment the other students and I often hang around online for a chat. I also try to keep in touch with friends and the other students via digital channels. ‘Studying at home has changed my mindset. I’m less strict on myself and find it really important to relax in the evening. And if today’s not my day, then tomorrow is always another day.’

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