Universiteit Leiden

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Education, Organisation

New coronavirus measures

15 December 2020

With coronavirus continuing to spread, new measures were announced yesterday, and as of today the Netherlands is in lockdown. The extra measures also have consequences for the University; these are listed below. This is how higher education institutions can do their bit to stop the virus. The University buildings have been adapted to 1.5-meter distancing, so fortunately location-specific research, practicals and exams will be able to continue there. PhD defences and inaugural lecture can be held online. 

The following measures affect the University:

All measures apply from Wednesday 16 December to 17 January inclusive. With these measures we are following the agreements made within the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU).

Study and student life

  • Many face-to-face teaching activities will be cancelled for the period of 16 December until at least 17 January, and will be held online where possible. Practicals in small groups will be able to continue under the guidelines of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), as will mentor and tutor sessions to provide students with support and guidance. Students will receive further information about this from their degree programme.
  • In-person exams will also continue during this period.
  • Study spaces will remain available via the existing booking system for students who need them most. This means:

    • International students
    • Students with a disability
    • Students who are carers
    • Students who do not have the option to study at home or who prefer to study on campus for other (mental-health) reasons.
  • Internships will be able to continue if the internship provider agrees.
  • Study associations will not be able to organise in-person activities in the above period. This also applies to educational activities.


  • The basic assumption will continue to be that staff will work from home. Exceptions will only be allowed in consultation with the staff member’s manager. The government has called on everyone to work from home, and it is in the spirit of this that we ask managers only to allow people to work at one of our locations in exceptional cases.
  • Research may be conducted at one of our locations if this research is location specific.
  • Lecturers and supporting staff who are needed for teaching activities are considered to be key workers. This means that, just like in the spring, their children can go to day-care, primary schools and after-school care. For more information about critical professions, see the government website. You can ask our PSSC Service Point to provide you with a letter, stating that you are a key worker.

Ceremonies and national holidays

  • No joint degree ceremonies may be held in this period. Students may collect their degree certificate, but without guests or an audience.
  • PhD defence ceremonies may continue, but online. Only the necessary staff (so no audience) may be present in the Academy Building, up to a maximum of ten people.
  • Inaugural lectures may continue online. The ceremonies will be recorded on location without an audience.
  • No in-person Christmas or New Year events may be organised.

Travel within and outside the Netherlands

  • Students and staff should use their own transport as much as possible to travel. If this is not possible – and if it is essential that they travel for exams, in-person teaching or research activities – they can then use public transport.
  • Business trips abroad are still not permitted until further notice, unless the Executive Board grants written permission in advance. For more information see this announcement.
  • All exchange programmes in the first and second semester have already been cancelled because of coronavirus. Only in very exceptional cases can the University grant people permission to go abroad for study or an internship. For more information see this announcement.

Buildings and catering facilities

  • Many University buildings will remain open for, among others, location-specific work and exams. Their opening hours will change during the Christmas holiday: for more information see the Christmas opening times for the University buildings and University Libraries.
  • The Hortus botanicus will be closed during the entire period (so until 19 January inclusive). For more information see the Hortus website.
  • Almost all University Sport Centre (USC) locations will be closed during this period. For more information see the USC website.
  • Catering points at the University will remain open, but only for take-away.

These measures will help us as a university do our bit to fight the virus. As at the start of the year, this asks a lot of our students and staff. For students it means even less contact with the University and one another, for lecturers it means providing even more online teaching and for many staff it means having their children with them while they try to work. And once again this will require much in the way of flexibility and improvisation from our researchers, PhD candidates and staff.

Regrettably, the measures also mean that our leisure options in the coming weeks will also be curtailed, and we will be celebrating the holidays with fewer people than we would have hoped. This will have an impact on everyone, in particular all the staff who have worked overtime this year to move their teaching online and the students who would have liked to return to their families or even home countries. A platitude it might be, but all we can do is keep calm and carry on. We would like to thank every single one of you for all your hard work.

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