International students: Learning experience in Leiden best in the Netherlands

Students rank the overall learning experience in Leiden and the English of Leiden academics as the best in the Netherlands, according to the latest International Student Barometer. ‘Another excellent result. It confirms we are on the right track,’ commented Vice-Rector Simone Buitendijk.

Key findings

The International Student Barometer (ISB) showed a fine performance for Leiden: students ranked Leiden as top scorer in the Netherlands (and number 8 in Europe) in terms of the overall learning experience. A key aspect of the learning experience is the English of the academic staff, where Leiden was again the lead scorer in the Netherlands, and third highest in Europe. The teaching ability of the staff, the expertise of the lecturers, the quality of the lectures, and the course content were also ranked very highly (2nd in the Netherlands for each of these aspects). Students rated Leiden as a good place to be (2nd in the Netherlands), with an attractive host culture and a safe environment. They reported that stronger focus on the link with the world of work and more information on how to gain access to the Dutch job market with the knowledge learned at Leiden University would enhance the study experience positively.

Wave-on-wave trends

The results indicate a number of areas where students feel Leiden has shown strong improvement over the period of the ISB surveys. The English of our academics has improved since 2005, as has language support. Respondents also indicated their appreciation of the improvements in the host environment, in particular the facilities put in place to make it easier to integrate and make friends, the host culture and the accommodation office. Buitendijk is pleased with these results: 'We are working to make Leiden the place where students want to study. We have paid attention to their comments in past years and worked to improve those areas that students felt could be better. We will do the same with the results of this latest survey.'

Areas where students rated the Leiden experience slightly lower since the first survey include employability and careers advice, financial support and catering facilities. Some of these perceptions are, of course, unsurprising given the current economic climate. Nonetheless, Leiden will be looking at possible improvements in these areas.

Way forward

Leiden University believes it is important that as many students as possible take part in the survey. The student’s input to the ISB is an excellent way for the university to learn about those areas that are working well and those where students would like to see improvement. Priority areas for improvement will also be identified and an action plan will be drawn up. These priority areas and action plan will be discussed with the faculties and the Executive Board.

International Student Barometer

Leiden University has taken part in the world’s largest bi-annual survey of international student experience, the International Student Barometer™ (ISB), since 2005. The survey administered by the independent benchmarking and research organisation International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate). The ISB allows the university to gauge the feelings of our international students and gain a better idea of our performance in the areas of learning, living, arrival facilities and support.


Response rate

A total of 161,781 students responded from 193 institutions in 14 countries. With a population of 628,128 students, this represents an overall response rate of 26%.


All international students enrolled in a bachelor’s, master’s, PhD, exchange or study abroad programme at Leiden University were invited to take part in the survey. Our response rate was 31%, meaning that a total of 861 out of 2,803 students gave their opinion about their study and student life in Leiden.


(4 April 2013 / MLH)

See also

ISB: Leiden World Class (news article November 2011)

Last Modified: 25-04-2013