Universiteit Leiden

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Education, Organisation

Message from the International Studies Board

20 March 2020

Dear students,

We live in trying times. There is much uncertainty about the virus that is spreading over the world, and at the same time much uncertainty about how and whether to proceed with our daily routines, insofar as possible.

As you already know, Leiden University has decided to switch to remote education for the rest of the semester. The International Studies programme follows the guidelines of the university in this regard, which means that from next week on your education will be completely online. Our teaching staff has been busy the past days preparing for the switch. Different courses and different ways of teaching (e.g. lectures vs. tutorials) ask for different ways of moving the course online. Your lecturers and tutors will let you know how to continue your studies for their particular courses.

One recurring question from students is whether they can leave the country. While the answer may be different for different countries, we can at least confirm that you will be able to follow classes online. However, since there will be classes in which your presence and participation is expected, you should make sure that you can actually be “present” online. Moving to a different time zone, can make that more difficult, of course. We have no information yet about the final exams; as soon as this is clear we will inform you accordingly.

If, for some reason, you cannot be present during a class in which your participation is required, please inform your tutor or lecturer, as you would have done otherwise. If you have a more structural problem with being present, like illness or other issues, please contact your coordinator of studies, again, like you would have done in normal circumstances.

Moving all teaching online will no doubt face obstacles, of which we will see many especially during the first week, when all is still new. We would ask for your understanding, as you have already shown during the past week. Our goal is to keep everyone up to speed and reach the learning goals of the various courses, albeit with different means. This may also result in the tutor or lecturer asking a slightly different assignment than first planned. The purpose is not to make anyone’s life difficult, but to make it possible to reach similar goals with online assignments as we would have with assignments that require physical presence (e.g. group presentations). We will strive to keep and follow the original structure for courses and tutorials as much as possible

Finally, we would like to speak some words of encouragement. We believe that the various measures taken by many countries, including The Netherlands, show that our societies care for people with health problems and for the elderly, who are at a much higher risk than younger people. We have never seen more drastic measures to protect these groups. This gives us hope for the future. We appreciate you following the government guidelines, and encourage you to keep doing so; if not for your own health, then at least for other people. We will get through this eventually. In the meantime, we will also try to keep giving you the high quality education that International Studies prides itself in!

Kind regards,

Giles Scott-Smith (Chair)
Jaap Kamphuis (Programme Manager)

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