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Indonesian president visits Leiden University

President Joko Widodo was received on 22 April in the Academy Building at the Rapenburg by Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker and Henri Lenferink, Mayor of Leiden. Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, was also present.

A large group of Indonesian students welcomed the president with the Tanah airku, a traditional Indonesian hymn. Widodo made time to talk with the students and to have his photo taken with them. 

Sculpture garden

The party visited the Sculpture Garden in the Academy Building, where there is currently an exhibition on the life of Hoesein Djajadiningrat (1886 -1960), the first Indonesian to obtain his doctorate in Leiden (in 1913). This is one aspect of the longstanding relationship between Indonesia and Leiden University that is still cherished today. 

600 alumni

Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker thanked the president for his visit, and stressed the good collaboration between Indonesia and Leiden University, in areas ranging from medicine to biodiversity and history. 'The University has more than 600 Indonesian alumni, many of whom hold important positions in the scientific world and in politics. One of these is Maria Ulfah Santoso, an Indonesian champion of women's rights and the first woman minister in Indonesia. She was also the first Indonesian woman to graduate in Law at Leiden University.'

V.l.n.r. Retno Marsudi (minister van Buitenlandse Zaken), ambassadeur Wesaka Puja, burgemeester van Leiden Henri Lenferink, OCW-minister Jet Bussemaker, president Joko Widodo, rector Carel Stolker.
From l to r: Retno Marsudi (Minister of Foreign Affairs), ambassador Wesaka Puja, Mayor of Leiden Henri Lenferink, Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker, President Joko Widodo, Rector Carel Stolker.

Collaboration in the field of Law

Professor Jan Michiel Otto, Professor of Law and Governance in Developing Countries, gave an overview of the collaboration in the field of Law. Many Indonesian PhD candidates in Leiden study constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law and private law. They make use of Leiden's extensive library collection on Indonesia for their studies. At the request of the KITLV, a chair in Law and Society in Indonesia has been installed in Leiden. Much of the research carried out in Leiden is conducted in partnership with the Indonesian High Court and different ministries. 

Maps in the Crowd

Widodo was also introduced to the Maps in the Crowd project at the Leiden University Library. In this project students and other interested parties decipher historic maps of the Dutch East Indies. Once the maps, that come from the collections of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), have been digitised they become accessible for use in teaching and research. 

'Sweat Room'

The Indonesian president met a number of Indonesia experts and Indonesian PhD candidates from PI Leiden, the association of Indonesian students. Finally he visited the 'Sweat Room', the room where Leiden graduates are allowed to write their signature on the wall after receiving their diploma. The room contains the signatures of many important individuals, including Princess Beatrix and King Willem-Alexander. 

Facts and figures

Indonesia plays a very important role in the research and teaching at Leiden University. The University has:  

  • More than a hundred bachelor's and master's students from Indonesia and a further 75 PhD candidates
  • More than 600 Indonesian alumni
  • Representation in Jakarta
  • An Asian Library (from 2017) at the Leiden University Library, with one of the world's biggest collections on Indonesia. 
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