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Webinar Week: reaching out to prospective master's students

Not all students who are thinking of doing a master’s programme at Leiden University can come to the Master’s Open Day. Hence the first Webinar Week, from 2 to 5 December. ‘Online video is the way to reach today’s generation of prospective master’s students.’

The University holds two Master’s Open Days per year, a Friday on which it opens its doors to potential master’s students. They attend presentations about the various master’s programmes, talk to students and lecturers, and discover what it is like to study at Leiden University. But they often have more questions afterwards, explains Marketing Adviser for Master’s Students, Simone Katier. ‘They are looking for further information about the master’s programmes or about practical matters relating to admission.’ Moreover, there is a large group of prospective master’s students who can’t come to a Master’s Open Day at all: international students. ‘That’s why we came up with the idea of webinars: interactive online seminars about specific master’s programmes and related matters such as accommodation and students’ experiences.’

Daniëlle Chevalier (left) and Maartje van der Woude (right) in the recording studio. They gave a webinar on the new master’s programme in Law and Society.
Daniëlle Chevalier (left) and Maartje van der Woude (right) in the recording studio. They gave a webinar on the new master’s programme in Law and Society.

Live questions

Katier and her colleagues held the Master’s Webinar Week in the first week of December. The basement of the Old Observatory was transformed into a studio, and four or five webinars were transmitted live per day. Katier explains that it’s very simple, ‘Students register for one or more webinars and are sent a link to the webinar platform. When the webinar begins, they can watch live and use the chat option to ask any questions.’ These are answered immediately by the students and lecturers in the studio. The recording of the webinar stays available for prospective students to watch on demand.

Career perspectives and forms of assessment

Professor Maartje van der Woude and Assistant Professor Daniëlle Chevalier, both from the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society, have just left the studio. They have given a webinar on the new master’s programme in Law and Society, which will start in September 2020. ‘It was great fun to do,’ says Van der Woude. They divided their webinar into three sections: first a description of the programme and what makes it so unique. Then Van der Woude gave an example of how the subject matter will be addressed in the programme. ‘Then we had 20 minutes for questions, which just flew by,’ says Chevalier. The students watching asked questions about the career perspectives of the programme, the forms of assessment and how it works being taught in both Leiden and The Hague.

‘I live in Ecuador, so the Webinar Week transported me for fleetingly to Leiden. I was given a lot of information and the presentors gave me a first impression of what Dutch people are like. Fantastic!’
- Master’s Webinar Week participant

Today’s generation

Chevalier and Van der Woude are very enthusiastic about the Webinar Week. ‘This is the best channel to reach today’s generation of prospective master’s students. We also want an international group of students on the programme because it’s really globally oriented,’ says Chevalier. Van der Woude adds: ‘I really do think I can be of more help to the students by answering their questions like this. And I think they like gaining an idea of who exactly is involved in the programme.’ Chevalier: ‘For us as a new master’s programme, it is also a very good additional way of showing that we exist.’

The control room. The webinars are broadcast live on an online platform, so that prospective students can ask any questions.
The control room. The webinars are broadcast live on an online platform, so that prospective students can ask any questions.

Information accessible all round the world

Alongside the webinars on master’s programmes, there are sessions on what it’s like to study in Leiden. International Relations Officer Carolyn Barr presented these student stories together with four international students who are now studying in Leiden or The Hague. ‘I’ve given webinars before, but as we are bringing everything together in one week, you create a kind of buzz, in both the potential master’s students and the people who are giving the webinars. It’s really great.’ Barr enjoys talking to students and answering their questions, and is pleased with the number of questions that have been asked. She has noticed that students are less likely to tune in live and more likely to watch on demand. ‘Perhaps that’s only logical because obviously lots of people are in different time zones.’ The main advantage of Webinar Week, says Barr, is that information about master’s programmes has become much more accessible. ‘We can’t personally meet the vast majority of prospective master’s students, not even in the Netherlands, let alone in the rest of the world. The webinars bring Leiden University to them anyway.’

Text: Marieke Epping
Photos: Sean van der Steen
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