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Plenty of online alternatives for prospective students with questions

Chats with students, webinars or online experiences. Fortunately, in these times of social distancing with prospective students currently unable to visit Leiden University, there are plenty of online ways to find out what it’s like to study at Leiden University. What are they?

The global corona crisis has also had a major impact on prospective students. Open days and higher-education fairs have been cancelled and universities have had to find online alternatives for communicating with prospective students. ‘That’s particularly important in these uncertain times because school leavers have lots of questions about the application and admission procedure,’ says Frank Parlevliet, Marketing Adviser for Bachelor’s Programmes. ‘And they still want to find out all about a particular degree programme to make sure it’s right for them.’


To help prospective students, Parlevliet’s team and the University’s Student and Educational Affairs department have launched a special FAQ site with answers to questions such as: my school has cancelled my final exams. Can I still be admitted to a bachelor’s programme? Parlevliet: ‘In principle, Leiden University will accept all diploma credentials that appear on our diploma equivalencies list, regardless whether exams have been postponed or cancelled.’ See the box below for the key information on applications and admissions and a link to the FAQs.


The marketing team is also using various interactive communication tools. One good example is the new Unibuddy platform, which gives prospective students the opportunity to chat to current students. The platform has been online since the beginning of March and within the space of a month, prospective students had asked more than 1,000 questions. Both sides are very enthusiastic, says Parlevliet. More and more students are coming forward as an ambassador for their degree programme and more and more prospective students are starting a chat with them. They are asking the kinds of question that can normally be heard on open days: what courses are there on the programme? What are my future prospects with this degree? What is student life like in Leiden and The Hague?

Prospective students can get a sneak preview in video lectures.

Video lectures

Alongside the new FAQ site and Unibuddy there are other alternatives that have been around longer. The online experience offered by six degree programmes, for example. Here prospective students get an idea of what the programme is like by watching video lectures and carrying out assignments at home. They are also given other relevant information about the degree programme such as the career prospects.


Various master’s programmes are using webinars: interactive online classes and Q&A sessions with lecturers, students and study advisers. These webinars, which were recorded during Master’s Webinar Week at the end of last year, give prospective master’s students the opportunity to find out more information about the master’s programme they are considering studying. A project group is now working with the faculties on an inventory of what else the degree programmes are able to offer, such as online open days and chat sessions. Parlevliet: ‘We hope to make rapid progress here so that we’ll be able to inform more prospective students later in April about our degree programmes in online events. This will help them decide which programme they want to study.’

International students

The global corona crisis has meant even more uncertainty for prospective international students, says International Relations Officer Carolyn Barr. They face a difficult dilemma: will I be able to go abroad next academic year? Will it be safe in September? In these uncertain times, there are no easy answers, Barr admits. The University is helping prospective international students as best it can on the English FAQ site by providing all the answers it has so far. Barr and her colleagues are also talking to prospective international students at webinars and online events. ‘We have to be creative in this extraordinary situation and help future students as much as we can by providing up-to-date information about all the, sometimes changed, procedures.’

Language certificate

What are the greatest obstacles for prospective international students? Barr: ‘All around the world, language institutes are closed where students normally take English language exams for a language certificate, one of the conditions for a visa.’ Dutch universities only recognise a few English proficiency exams, but they are now working together to find good online alternatives, says Barr. Leiden University currently also accepts the IBT TOEFL Special Home Edition. Prospective students can check on the website whether this test is available to them. 


Barr is in intensive contact with advisers from secondary schools, higher-education institutions and universities all around the world. ‘This professional network means I can keep an eye out for trends and policy that is being made everywhere. I try to share this information wherever possible, both within and outside the University. We are letting concerned students and advisers know that Leiden University will be as flexible as possible and that we are regularly providing important updates.’ She appreciates that for many the uncertainty will not have gone away in a few months’ time. The corona crisis and the resulting financial problems may have consequences for years to come, particularly for prospective international students.

Number of applications

It’s difficult to say how this exceptional situation will affect the number of new undergraduates. Until the beginning of March, the number of applications for bachelor’s and master’s programmes was slightly higher than around the same time last year, says Parlevliet. But there are many factors that can still affect registrations. The final figures will only be available once the application deadline has passed and the registration process is complete.

Banner photo: recording a webinar
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Read the FAQs about applications and admissions. Below is a summary of the key information:

  • The regular application deadline for bachelor’s programmes for prospective students with an EU qualification has been extended from 1 May to 1 June.
  • The deadline for programmes with a compulsory matching procedure has also been extended to 1 June. The study choice check continues to be part of the admission procedure and can be completed online.
  • For bachelor’s programmes with a fixed quota (numerus fixus) or selection (such as Leiden University College The Hague) the deadlines remain unchanged.
  • The deadline for non-EU/non-EEA students for admission to a bachelor’s or master’s programme has been extended to 1 May and the deadline for visa applications to 15 June.
  • The deadline for master’s programmes with a limited capacity has been extended to 15 June. This is with the exception of the MSc in Pharmacy and the MSc in Biomedical Science: the deadline for these programmes remains 1 April.
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