A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Starting Your Studies in September? – What You Should Know

When University closed in March, few of us expected it to last this long. Now, it has been announced that we can expect the coming semester to be a bit different as well.

As it is still very early, a lot of these predictions might change, but this is what we know so far:

Will there be a fall semester?

Yes. The next academic year will start this September, and you can be sure that you get to start your programme. A few universities had considered closing down completely for a semester, but Leiden University is certain to remain in session and is preparing for the new semester as we speak!

What will studying look like?

As of now, Leiden University is preparing to deliver most of next semester’s education online. We can expect the curriculum to be adapted to the online environment. This might mean more take-home exams, more (small) assignments and a stronger focus on independent studying.


Even if education is online now, you can still experience Dutch culture during your studies!

But what about on-campus teaching?

Of course, Leiden University can’t make any promises here, as this depends largely on government regulations and the overall Corona-situation. Nevertheless, Leiden expects (and prepares!) to deliver part of our education in person. For each programme, there might be a couple of workgroups or seminars that will be held in a university building. This could especially apply to courses that are difficult to hold via the internet, and can also be adapted to the safety regulations.

Think about a language class: It is extremely important to hear the proper pronunciation and intonation, which isn’t always possible in an online environment. At the same time, you can have a small number of students, which allows for the required physical distance. This could also apply to research/experiments, which often require the subjects to be physically present.

Leiden University is fully aware that some international students might not be able to travel to the Netherlands in time to start the semester. If that’s the case, you are allowed to follow the entire programme online (at least for the first semester).


Photo by Abby Chung on

Will the campus be open?

The buildings of Leiden University will probably be open under certain conditions. The number of people in each building will probably be controlled, and you might have to make appointments in advance. Right now, it’s already possible to pick up books from the library or use the printer, so we can expect these services next semester as well.

What if you couldn’t finish your bachelor’s?

If you weren’t able to complete your bachelor’s degree in time for the master’s, this is worth taking a look at. Leiden University has decided to allow third-year students to start with their master’s programme (under certain conditions). This applies to third-year bachelor students who fell behind because of the pandemic and fulfil certain admission requirements specific to the master’s programme. You can find more information here:


Photograph by Laura Cirigliano

For more updates on how Leiden University is handling the pandemic, make sure to check out the official website at

Are you planning to start a degree next semester? Let us know about any questions you have in the comments!

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