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Office for International Education and internationalisation

Internationalisation is an important pillar of the Strategic Plan of Leiden University and Leiden Law School. The driving force behind internationalisation at our faculty is the Office for International Education (known as BIO). The Head of BIO is Anette van Sandwijk. Now the current political climate is increasingly working towards regulation and restriction, we asked Annette about her thoughts on internationalisation.

Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) wants to take a number of concrete measures to gain better control and direction over the number of international students coming to the Netherlands. He also wants the Dutch language to be preserved and strengthened in education. This was the content of a letter from Minister Dijkgraaf to the House of Representatives on 21 April.

Read the full response from Leiden University to the letter to the House of Representatives


How do we view internationalisation at Leiden University?

‘Although there’s much political debate about this topic, the Executive Board responded by saying that international students are still welcome. The importance of internationalisation is well understood. When it comes to our faculty, internationalisation is very important. In our teaching and research, different legal perspectives and cultural backgrounds can give rise to new insights on (global) issues. It is also important for students to develop international and intercultural skills to prepare them for the job market, here and abroad.'

What have you noticed about the current political situation concerning internationalisation?

‘Of course, we’re keeping a close eye on developments in politics and policy. We’ve also received questions from foreign students wondering if they are still welcome here. For now, it looks like the current debate has had no effect on the intake for the coming year. Hopefully, some of the points of discussion will apply to a lesser extent in the case of the Advanced Masters, although we are also dealing with the housing issue (one of the points of discussion).

What effect has it had for BIO?

‘It has no effect on the exchange programmes. Some things have changed when it comes to recruitment of students for the Advanced Master’s programmes. We’ve stopped going to large education fairs or events to promote our programmes. Even so, this academic year we will still likely be welcoming around 300 Advanced Master’s students from many different countries. That’s partly due to our network and close contacts with partner organisations. Approximately 25% of all Advanced Master’s students come from one of our partner universities, in some cases after they’ve done an exchange programme here.’

Can you tell us more about the existing network?

We maintain an extensive network of partner universities across the whole world – from Australia to Africa, and from Europe to North and South America. For years, our faculty has maintained excellent relations with Indonesian universities. In May 2023, we strengthened our contacts there during a knowledge mission from Leiden University. Together with five other faculties a delegation from Leiden Law School went to Indonesia and our faculty visited two partners there: Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and Universitas Indonesia (UI) and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Jentera Law School in Jakarta. After Indonesia, we travelled on to Australia as it’s relatively close. There, we met colleagues from our partners in Melbourne (Monash University) and Sydney (University of Sydney).'

Team BIO with Anette van Sandwijk in the middle of the back row

What is the aim of such a trip?

'It’s all about meeting colleagues, exchanging and comparing knowledge, evaluating ongoing projects and discussing new plans, and meeting students and alumni. For example, we talked about the Kernvisie, the proposals for future-proof bachelor’s programmes at our faculty. In Indonesia, they’re also considering changes and improvements to legal education. We also caught up with exchange students from our faculty in Yogyakarta, Melbourne and Sydney. It was great and very interesting to talk with them about their experiences.

The Dutch Ambassador in Jakarta pointed out that now is the time to strengthen ties with Indonesia. As an emerging economy, it’s very popular with various universities throughout the world.  Our close ties with Indonesia and ensuing collaborations can therefore no longer just be taken for granted.

We’re now working on a plan, together with UGM and Monash, to submit a project application (International Credit Mobility 2022 projects - Leiden University (universiteitleiden.nl) in which we can collaborate intensively with these universities.'

What are the benefits of going there?

'If you meet each other in person, have lunch together and spend time together, you can strengthen the ties and achieve even more. Personal contact also often paves the way for working together online afterwards.'

What can BIO learn?

'In Leiden, we want to make our exchange programmes as accessible and inclusive as possible. Take, for instance, Monash University in Melbourne which promises students a ‘global immersion guarantee’  (Global Immersion Guarantee - Flagship Rich Educational Experiences (monash.edu)). It’s very interesting how they go about that. We’d like to offer all students the opportunity to gain international experience and we’re happy to remove any ‘barriers’ in their way.'

What other future plans does BIO have?

'Besides students, academic and non-academic staff can also gain experience abroad. These are often short periods of one week or longer in which they teach, conduct research and speak with colleagues in their field. During the Covid pandemic, this all stopped. But we’re now slowly getting back on track. International experience can be a huge plus in so many areas – everyone should have the opportunity to gain such experience. It help build your network, experience and knowledge. So we ask anyone who is interested to please contact us. BIO is happy to give advice about the possibilities.'

More information?


More information is available via the Office for International Education.

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