Universiteit Leiden

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Mentor and tutor help first years get off to a flying start

All first-year bachelor’s students at Leiden will be assigned a student as a mentor and a lecturer as a tutor to help them find their way around their new city and degree programme. The tutor groups, with ten to fifteen students, will also give students the chance to get to know one another.

The aim of the new and improved mentor and tutor system is to give first years a warm welcome, in-person and online, and help them get off to a flying start in their studies. In September, thousands of new students will start a degree programme at Leiden University, and this year will be different from other years.

Support and guidance

Studying in a time of corona differs from studying as we know it: much of the teaching is online, which means fewer opportunities to meet other students. To support our new students, we are therefore intensifying our tutoring, which is part of the Leiden study system. All first-year bachelor’s students will be assigned to a tutor group of around ten to fifteen students with a student as mentor and a lecturer as tutor. New master’s students will be given extra coaching at their faculty and online.

On-campus and online

With less opportunity for students to meet up in class, this makes a good start, a good introduction and good support all the more important. A tutor hour has therefore been scheduled for all degree programmes – for most programmes this will be every week in the first seven weeks followed by every fortnight after that. If possible, this contact hour will be on campus to give the first years and their tutors the chance to meet in person. But even online, the tutoring can still provide support and the chance to socialise.

Help getting started

Vice-Rector Hester Bijl is pleased with this approach: ‘The tutoring system offers students a small-scale, safe setting in which they feel seen and heard. It provides links and learning: it helps the students feel connected to their new environment and fosters their academic growth.’


The exact nature of the mentor and tutor programme will differ per degree programme, but will at least include an introduction to the group, University and city. The first years will also be given tips on (online) study and student life. And the mentors will explain about University facilities such as the libraries and show them how to use teaching and learning tools such as Brightspace, the learning management system. The programme will also cover inclusion and mental health, as well as topics such as study skills, career prospects and support for students with any questions or problems. 


The University will offer the student mentors training to prepare them for the task at hand. They will also be given tips on online group dynamics, motivation and inclusion.

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