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

Great to hear you’re planning to study here at Leiden University. These may be uncertain times due to COVID-19, but there’s one thing we do know: if you come and study with us, you can count on a top-notch education.

We are ready to welcome you to Leiden University next academic year, and assume it will be safe on campus for all our students and that much of our teaching will be in person once again. Studying is about collaboration, about working together on research questions and about lively debate with your lecturers and fellow students. Although we’ve seen over the past year that online teaching can work well too, we realise that meeting your lecturers and other students face-to-face is crucial to the excellent education we want to provide.

We also hope to see students from abroad in Leiden or The Hague. If you are an international student and are unable to come to our on-campus classes (because of travel restrictions, quarantine etc.), we will make sure you can still follow them online.

How open the world will be in September 2021 is still unclear. The first months of the new academic year may be a transition phase with a combination of online and offline teaching, to make it easier for students to join in online. In the longer term, good online teaching is something we want to keep. This could mean web lectures and knowledge clips that help you prepare and thus ensure there really is time for interaction and contact in your in-person workgroups and practicals. 

These plans for the new academic year will make sure we can offer you the best of both worlds: mainly on campus with the best of online.

Frequently asked questions

Obviously, the health and safety of our students and lectures is paramount, which is why we follow the measures and guidelines of the Dutch government and the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM). We don’t yet know what these measures and guidelines will be in September 2021, so check this website regularly for the latest information. If you have enrolled on a programme, you’ll receive a mail from us outlining our plans for our teaching in the new academic year. 

We offer over 50 bachelor’s and almost 80 master’s programmes – and they differ greatly: in size, mode of teaching and building options. Our teaching delivery may therefore differ per degree programme, so your degree programme will inform you about your individual timetable. You will receive this information from 15 June.

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. 
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.

A lot of work is currently going into preparing activities for the different introduction week programmes. The format of these weeks is very much dependent on the coronavirus measures in place. The introduction week teams are planning for every possible scenario to make sure you have a memorable experience, whether this be online, face to face, or a combination of the two. 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 programme should be an unforgettable start to your student years, and we want to make sure you have every opportunity to enjoy this experience! You’ll find more information on the website about which introduction programme is the right one for you.
Further information will be published as soon as we have more certainty.

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

What’s it like to study?

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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