A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
When I applied to study at Leiden University, I was aware of the profound differences between my home country’s higher education system and the Dutch one, but spending a year in Leiden gave me the opportunity to write down what I think is a quite accurate comparison.
In this blog post I will talk about such dissimilarities and assess the pros and cons of each system. First, it must be specified that different faculties and universities in the same country employ diverse teaching and testing methods; the following comparison is therefore not to be intended as absolute but related to my personal experiences. However, features which are specific to each country do exist.
To start, I was lucky enough to take part to a programme (European Union studies) with a few dozen students. This allowed me and my colleagues to create deeper bonds with our teachers and have more space, during the lessons, to discuss the topics at hand; it was among the first things I noticed during the early months of my stay in Leiden.
However, this has little to do with the education system and more to do with the faculty and the programme; indeed, for instance, as I learned by my flatmate, psychology students attend way more crowded classes.
One big difference between my experience as a bachelor student in Italy and as a master student in the Netherlands is the value given to the work during class hours. In Italy, for what concerns social sciences and humanities, students carry out most of their work at home by studying on textbooks. Workgroups allow students, especially those from crowded courses, to express personal views in a more relaxed environment and discuss the subjects among peers.
During my bachelor in Naples all classes were lectures, whereby the professors would talk and the students take notes. My classes at Leiden University were instead more diversified, with both lecture and workgroup hours.
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