Bachelor’s Open Days and Master’s Week will be completely online – and that has its advantages too
With interactive live presentations, a mass of chat opportunities and 360 degree videos, more prospective students than ever can gain a good impression of their chosen programme and the city they’re thinking of studying at. Instead of meeting up in the Pieterskerk or faculty buildings, thousands of participants will meet one another on an online platform. How are the preparations going behind the scenes?
University buildings are rapidly filling up with boxes full of folders, jackets, pens, signboards and all kinds of other paraphernalia. Under normal circumstances, the hectic preparations for the open days can be seen and heard thanks to the trolleys being rolled around the corridors. This year, the organisers are probably having to work even harder, but the preparations are taking place behind the scenes or at home. Many different information activities have been held online in recent months, but this is the first time that open days for all bachelor’s programmes (on 30 and 31 October) and the master’s week for all master’s programmes (2 – 6 November) will be completely online.
From the Pieterskerk to an online information fair
Events coordinator Floor van Dijk explains how she and her colleagues are organising the programme in a virtual environment. Prospective students, current students and staff will meet one another in a brand-new online platform instead of in the Pieterskerk and the faculty buildings. There’s a lot of tweaking going on to make sure the University style shines through, says Van Dijk. 'The online programme has all the same elements as a physical open day. There’s an information fair, programme presentations and opportunities for prospective students to ask all their questions, about the programme, the city and student life. Just as with a physical information day, there will be plenty of study advisers, lecturers and students on hand to answer every possible question.’
Tasting the atmosphere
Normally, taking a walk around Leiden and The Hague is a good way to get a taste of the atmosphere in a historic university city or a city that is the seat of government, so how will prospective students gain an impression of the two cities this year? Van Dijk: ‘We are having to really pull out all the stops. Instead of a physical tour, we have welcome videos and 360-degree videos that take visitors on a virtual tour.’ There’s also a virtual stand about Leiden and The Hague – where visitors can take a crash course in how to speak the everyday Dutch of Leiden or The Hague! – and about student life.
A virtual tour through Leiden or The Hague.
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No more getting lost
No more getting lost
It’s a shame that new students won’t have the chance to explore the university and the city physically, but Van Dijk is convinced the online information days have a lot of advantages. You do still have to register, but there’s no limit on numbers, so parents and friends can also visit the online information days. And prospective students can now follow more parts of the programme. If you register and tick the parts you’re interested in, you’ll automatically see your chosen elements on a personal platform. There’ll be no more getting lost in unfamiliar university buildings. Not only that, if your head is spinning from trying to take in all the information, you can watch all the presentations at home as many times as you want.
On the virtual information days, dozens of students will be available to answer questions about their study programme and student life. Sarah Familia, master’s student of History, is one of these students. She’s from California and has been studying in Leiden since autumn 2019. As a student ambassador, she likes telling people about her programme. ‘I’m really enthusiastic about my study programme. On top of that, I can imagine that many prospective students feel very unsure because they don’t know yet what studying will be like next year. To be able to make the right choice, students need good and realistic information.’
International students can watch too
Van Dijk agrees, adding that prospective students will get an impression of what it’s like studying in corona time – a combination of online and on-campus teaching – as well as how things are under normal circumstances. Familia: ‘I talk about what I like about the programme, but I also tell them them about the challenges, such as finding a room, or that the university isn’t a single campus, as they usually are in the US, but that university premises are spread throughout the city. That gives prospective students a realistic image. In the old situation, new international students often weren’t able to come here just for an open day, but now they can attend the online version.’