Universiteit Leiden

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Annual report 2020: a year of unity and resilience

In the new Annual Report 2020 we report on not only the research and teaching, but also the knowledge transfer, operational management and general policy at Leiden University in 2020. The report is divided into a general section and a section with the figures, i.e. the university’s financial statements.


For our university the year 2020 was dominated by the global coronavirus pandemic too. The word ‘coronavirus’ crops up frequently in this annual report. The virus had a major impact on our teaching, research and operational management last year, and has had (and is still having) a huge effect on our students and staff. For some of us it has had far-reaching implications. 

Superlative effort

We are therefore looking back on a year of uncertainty and worry, a year of delays and setbacks. But 2020 was also a year of unity, resilience, innovation, creativity and support. Many great things have been achieved, and the research and teaching continued as much as possible, albeit remotely. This required (and still does require) a superlative effort from our lecturers and supporting staff (often with children at home).  

Student wellbeing

Student poses for a photo wearing a face mask because of the coronavirus crisis
Student with face mask

The Executive Board is indebted to them. It is thanks to their dedication – and that of our students –that our students’ have achieved good results in this period despite everything. Covid doesn’t seem to have caused much of a delay to students’ studies as yet. This doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns about our students’ wellbeing that will need to be addressed: with little opportunity for social contact, this has been a difficult time for our students. We hope this difficult time will finally end in autumn 2021 and that we will once again be able to meet up on campus.

Benefits for the climate

The pandemic has had a big impact on the university, but it has also rapidly brought a number of positive changes, such as the digitalisation of our teaching and research, and the ability to work remotely. The world won’t be the same after the pandemic as it was before.

Students will most certainly return to the university after the lockdown and staff to the office, but less time will be spent within the walls of the academic buildings than before the pandemic. The amount of paper used in research, teaching and operational management has dramatically decreased because people have been exchanging much more information digitally. The number of kilometres flown for conferences will probably be less than before the pandemic. This has benefits, in particular for the climate.

In these times of coronavirus, Leiden University has shown itself to be a strong, agile and resilient university, with a leading position both nationally and internationally. It has remained attractive to students and researchers from home and abroad despite the global pandemic. 

For more information about the teaching, research, impact, organisation and operational management at Leiden University in 2020, see the Annual Report 2020 (in Dutch).

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